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Astronaut Goes from Migrant Fields to Outer Space
David Moolten

For José M. Hernández
(Inspired by a newspaper headline about the Mexican-American NASA astronaut 
who was on the Discovery space shuttle in September 2009 and once 
worked as a child laborer in the fields of California, picking strawberries)
The boy squatting with a wood and wire crate
In Salinas has finally risen
Above his station, California almost
Beautiful from this distance. Now when he bends
To the heavy glass he’s hurtling through
Vacuum cold as night on the desert
When coyotes bring the families across
In rust gnawed pick ups and then on foot.
He’s glossing over vast tracts of years, entire lives
In dirt and of dirt, obligations. He orbits
His parents talking low in their bed,
His mother’s sorrow the high pitch of rain
Against the hut’s metal blinds. In zero
Gravity the work is easy; nothing weighs
On the heart. He rides openly, needn’t hide
In back with shovels under a tarp.
The earth is no longer soil but rainbow blue
And round as fruit. His itinerant efforts pay back
In stars. Now heaven is mestizo, offers
Fine shades, not just Milky Way black and white.
Let the good news fall gently back to earth.
Let today’s harvest be measured not in pounds
But raised eyes, and miles, and light.

© 2009 by David Moolten
Used with the author's permission



David Moolten is the son of a Jewish physician and a Puerto Rican biochemist. A physician specializing in transfusion medicine, he is the author of three books of poetry, and his award-winning work has appeared in numerous journals and magazines. Fascinated by myths and fairy tales and their relevance to our lives, David explores those themes in his poetry as well as in filmmaking projects. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with his wife, a classical singer, and two children. Learn more about David at  his website and his blog, Edible Detritus



Post New Comment:
The rhythm and vocabulary of this poem lifts, lifts one straight up into the heavens.
Posted 01/22/2015 08:12 PM
Wonderful poem. Especially like 'his mother's sorrow the high pitch of rain'~ will never think of rain in exactly the same way again.
Posted 01/21/2015 01:46 PM
Wonderful insights. I will share this with my Spanish conversation group tomorrow.
Posted 01/21/2015 11:03 AM
May we all soar in this way sometime in our lives.
Posted 01/21/2015 10:51 AM
a beautiful poem
Posted 01/21/2015 09:04 AM
What a fabulous poem. I intend to purchase your books.
Posted 01/21/2015 08:35 AM
Larry Schug:
Great perspective. The kind of poem a person (me!)will re-read often. I very much enjoyed this on so many levels.
Posted 01/21/2015 08:11 AM
Posted 01/21/2015 07:11 AM
This is wonderful!
Posted 01/21/2015 06:42 AM
that was lovely and how touching...
Posted 01/21/2015 12:20 AM

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