Monday, January 28, 2019

In Search of Heroes



On this anniversary of the Challenger explosion (1986), I searched through my old files for a poem, a poem of anguish and questions. I don’t remember why there was no school, but I was at home That Day typing a lesson, occasionally looking at the TV to learn what was happening in our conquest of space. I changed my lesson for the next day; this is the poem we discussed as we talked about the concept of “hero.”



IN SEARCH OF HEROES

Today, Reagan said 
you "slipped the surly bonds of earth,"
but slipping is more subtle, 
much quieter, unwatched.
You rode into heaven on fiery, snorting horses 
that could not be controlled.
You knew the risks.  
We had almost forgotten.

You left us in a gigantic fireball,
an unplanned, not-quite-centered 
fireworks display,
a spectacle of crashing color 
that would have been beautiful
had we not lost so much.
You knew the risks.  
We had almost forgotten.

We together grieve,
a nation not inured (not yet)
to televiewed death,
a nation astounded by failure--
deadly, unthinkable failure--
where we had become accustomed to success.

Our children watched the great adventure.
Now we worry about their troubled dreams. 
But they wake from nightmares
easier than we do.
They are too young to know
what we had almost forgotten.

Many have called you heroes,
although you did not quite 
sail among the stars.
We know your names and faces now--
death your price for fame.
Heroes because you failed.

Always in search of heroes,
we were not prepared for failure.
You knew the risks.  
We had almost forgotten.

You reached, and came up empty-handed.
So did we.
January 28, 1986
Mary Starke


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