When we tried to blast free of Earth’s pull,
whirling debris hammered us in near space—
a toaster, a blender, spare parts to satellites,
Father’s putting iron, Baby’s bronze shoe;
we had to turn back with a breached hull
and touch down on the charred launchpad
where the brass band, which had plodded to see us off,
welcomed us with sardonic oompahs. No Mars,
no Venus, no moons of Jupiter; we would grow old
to “Summertime” on a dented tuba, self-hating trumpet,
trombone uncoiling like a mantis, each reprise
the last, in the flickering light of storms.