April 20, 2016 / Jessica Rae Bergamino
Voyager 1 in the Termination Shock
When you leave the sky you don't become a new sky,
don't spike to cloud or dust-slushed nebula,
violently pink in pillars of shine.
When you leave you don't become the leaving,
don't carry the rapture of rupture.
There's no map to unfold,
no destination, no crease to smooth
from stocking or hem.
Instead, you slum inside your own cool
body, your body a coffin,
your going a star on some old flag
as still and empty as the moon.
The last great explorers were compass and loneliness,
telescope turned towards blooms of light
hammered from the sturdy dark.
Their straw-stuffed bodies folded over tin
cans and their own small portions of fire.
Embers blush and blush, waiting
to be strangled by the air.
I wish my solitude were an avenging machine,
the type that hums low and steady,
cutting through quicks of god and distance.
I wish my solitude were a black hole,
one that could memorize
the solar system's egg-shaped heft,
the sun a bright yolk about to break,
and me, the breaking thing.
I wish my solitude were an hour of honey
and light scattered sharp,
an instrument to measure the white
burn of rash and judgment.
If I am how the message must be sent,
etched in stubborn and gold,
let me burn in my bright landscape,
in my night that sings and sings and sings—
copyright© Jessica Rae Bergamino. First published in West Branch issue 79 (2015), republished by Poetry Daily 9/3/2015
Curator's Notes: Meg Day
I have long said that the poet’s closest living relative must be the astronaut, so it’s no surprise that I’m smitten with Jessica Rae Bergamino’s poetics of interstellar subjectivity.
What could be more profoundly fulfilling & wildly devastating than traveling to space & then returning to earth? Never returning at all. Bergamino mines this poem with a kind of effortless reverence that few could successfully extend to space probes or other such things containing radioisotope thermoelectric generators. And yet, there it is—Voyager 1—tender as they come. I am weightless when I read this poem, & yet so incredibly heavy with grief—for me, there is no greater feat.
Jessica Rae Bergamino is the author of several chapbooks, most recently The Desiring Object Or Voyager Two Explains to the Gathering of Stars How She Came to Glow Among Them (Sundress Publications). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Journal, Gulf Coast, West Branch, The Offing, and elsewhere. She is pursuing a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Utah, where she serves as poetry editor for Quarterly West.