Last Day in Space

A view from space (Credits: Don Pettit)

On July 1, astronaut Don Pettit departed the International Space Station along with his fellow Expedition 31 crewmates Oleg Kononenko and Andre Kuipers, all three of whom landed safely in Kazakhstan. Before leaving, Pettit posted this poem on his blog, entitling it “Last Day in Space”:

Tomorrow we light our rocket,
  we burn our engines and likewise,
   burn a hole in the sky,
   And thus fall to Earth.
How does one spend your last day in space?
  Looking at Earth,
   a blue jewel surrounded by inky blackness,
    Pure Occipital Ecstasy.
Unconstrained by your girth,
  you fly with vestigial wings.
The atmosphere on edge,
  iridescent blue with no earthly parallel,
   Electrifying Diaphanous Beauty.
Guarded by Sirens of Space,
  singing saccharine songs,
   beckoning you to crash on the atmos-reef
  which tears you limb from limb
   and scorching what remains
    into cosmic croutons that sprinkle onto
     the garden salad of Earth.
One last feast out the window,
  A looking glass of Wonderland.
Offering both a portal to see your world,
  and a translucent reflection to see yourself.
  what is your place in this world below,
   how do you change it,
    how does it change you.
We are wedded to this planet,
  until mass extinction we do part.
   Perhaps one planet is not enough.
You study your charts,
  we prepare our spaceship,
   and our minds.
We make ready our descent,
  into these seemingly gentle arms.
The eager anticipation of hugging your wife,
  your boys with grins followed by pouting faces,
   both excited to see you but not understanding why you left.
Oh how does one spend your last day in Space.
  What would you do?

Don Pettit
Node 2, Deck 5
ISS, LEO 51.603

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