Aldrin, in a white vessel among stars

by Seun Matiluko

after Sylvia Plath

A Sestina for the Final Frontier

Rocketeer, the physicists once wondered how you
Came to be lying on the rocky ground above the heavens
Sculpted in aluminium, under the eye
Of chirping stars and a tropical moon,
Set in intricate wilderness of grey
Dome-shaped holes, like elephant prints, and tribes
Of monstrous size, like no well-bred tribe
It seems the consistent critics wanted you
To choose between your world below
And the unexplored мир of the silver land
With its primative carvings, without a moon
To turn you luminous, without the eye
Of strangers to be stilled by your dark passion
And clothing whiter than its covered with lilies:
They’d have had bubble wrap over the moon (as if it didn’t exist),
Cumulonimbus and nimbus flattened to paper sealed above you
Or, at worst, to a trampoline. But the man
Stood stubborn on its moon: white against grey,
white against fifty shade of grey,
The man glared out at the prosaic eye.
So NASA, to explain why the man
Persisted in the picture with the rocks,
domes, elephants, and the tribes and you,
And the shining stars, and the round moon,
Described how you fell dreaming at the great moon
On a white rocket ship within your grey-
decorated boudoir. Hearing trumpets, you
Dreamed yourself away in the moon’s eye
To a quiet jungle, and dreamed that bright moon-lilies
Nodded their petaled heads around your ship.
And that, Nixon told the critics, was why the rocket
took you up. So they nodded at the man with the moon
And the trumpet song and the gigantic domes,
Astonishingly numbered the many shades of grey.
But to a friend, in private, Nixon confessed that his eye
So enthralled by the glowing stars of the night sky which the you,
Buzz, stand on, that he put you on the moon
To feed his eye with pride, such pride! above the moon,
In the midst of all that grey and those great domes!