blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2010  Vol. 9  No. 2
print version

Hawking in Zero-G

     On April 26, 2007, astrophysicist Stephen Hawking
experienced microgravity aboard a modified Boeing 727.

At the peak of the arc, you sail
in the weightless freight of your body
stiff arms crossed like a mummy.

The 727’s apogee
disables gravity, and
your face goes nova-bright.

Laid down again for the dive,
still grinning as the plane careens
through eight full swoops and

swoons. Joy as loud as terror.
Someone lets loose a Red Delicious,
and Newton’s apple crests, the praxis

of ballistic art. Forget the errors
spooled down the helix. Forget
the withering that hobbled

limbs and chest, bobble head,
atrophy, slumped in the claw
of a wheelchair on stage, your canned

voice calling to the universe.
In zero-g, the heart
is as round as an orb. Space

here I come, stocked
with star clusters like relief
ganglia to repair your shorted

lines. On the plane,
the preagreed signal was
a grimace for stop

or your eyebrows raised
for keep going & you never
put them down.  end

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