The Immolation of STS-107

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For Rick Husband, My Soccer Coach and Pilot of Space Shuttle Columbia


Praise be to God
+++++Who suspends the stars so we can reach for them,
+++++Who weaves adventure into bones, wonder into skin,
+++++And lifts us up to spirit, sets us dreaming
++++++beyond the limits established for the sun,
+++++Who ensures no stray glimmer will scorch the Earth 
++++++nor wander past the boundaries of the deep. 


+++++For things born of heaven find their dissolution in the sky: 
+++++An astronaut’s lapel, radio silence, a coach’s note scrawled

++++++++to tell the kids of Jesus. He handed me a trophy
++++++++before his ascension, before white wings were lightly
++++++++rapped by shreds of foam insulation, heat-shielding bent. 

++++++++When space shuttle Columbia came spindling down,
++++++++sensors twisted out from elevon in aerial display,
++++++++mission control abated to silence: 

++++++++I watched my soccer coach combust. Cloud altar.
++++++++Blue sky. Flaming metal frame splayed on ripped
++++++++atmosphere. Those silica flecks like Seraphim

+++++fanned against eyes that had seen the glory of the Lord.
+++++Parousia. Holy pupils shot through with steel and light.


So praise be to God,
+++++Who suspends children in whispers and mothers in muffled cries,
+++++Who weaves hot tears through hardened concrete
+++++And lifts the steam beyond the soccer field, ionosphere,
++++++++Centauri’s dark clouds, the sweeping arms of Milky Way
++++++++flown brazen around a pin-point black hole, Andromeda’s brash
++++++++glow, the electric nebulas of the Virgo supercluster, the network
++++++++of every star and structure, every boisterous quasar
++++++++cackling bruise-blue against the parsecs, the coldest void
++++++++where silence chokes Challenger, Soyuz, Columbia
++++++++back to dust, the untouchable God,
whose sovereign Word, ensured,
finds its dissolution in the sky.

By Nathan Jowers

Nathan Jowers is a M.Div student at Yale Divinity School studying theology and human diversity. He lives in New Haven, CT. His poetry won “Best Undergrad Poetry” from the Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers in 2017.