Star Gazer at 102,800 Feet

Fall 2010 / Issue 88

Michael Zinkowski

Before I walked-off the highest step in this world,

I stood inside the gondola of a hot-air balloon,

held space and tasted nebula like pomegranate seeds.

Star-clusters raced away, melting like snow

on blacktop. The taste on my lips was a galaxy’s

that no man had been to before. I wore

a suit pressurized with pure oxygen to

keep me guarded from frostbite, high-winds,

what little I knew of heartbreak in Outerspace.

I couldn’t tell I’d been falling faster than my voice:

in love with my susceptibility to the ground,

in love with the yielding of my wrists to your grip.

Sling them over my head, I said, like a parachute.

I’ll float the rest of the descent back to Earth.