Eleanor Peters '20
There was space
on the ceiling in your bedroom—stars,
peel-and-stick plastic luminance
in the half-light of suburban evening
without order, no constellations
just a dusting of the universe
like paint-splatter freckles across my nose
Our breath heavy
in the sticky humid air we lay there,
me staring up into the dark matter
of the shadowy plaster, seams and scrapes
the spaces between me, and you
curled away towards the wall,
a closed parenthesis in an oversized t-shirt
When the house
fell into almost-silence, only creaking floors
and humming fans, a whisper of shifting bodies in sheets
the curtains rippled, ghostly white
from the streetlamp outside,
a miniature sun but dim enough and so,
feet slipping and shuffling, we went
The window opened
and then we were out on the porch roof
metal cool under bare legs
goosebumps ridged our arms, and
sitting side-by-side, we muffled laughter with palms
flicked acorn hats down to the pavement below
and made wishes on the glow of passing headlights
In the morning
the stars were dark, blending with the ceiling
as I woke up, blinking, still tired
room stuffy with the closed window
mirror casting a moon-on-the water reflection
on the opposite wall, I watched dust float on sunbeams
waiting, as you slept until early afternoon.
Alejandro Rincón '21
Aidan Cooper '22
“Alarm looks good.
Ullage pressures are up.
Right engine helium tank is just a little bit low.”
“It was yesterday, too.”
Lest fire and flame forget our wings
That soar into the heavens,
“Remember the red button when you make a roll call.”
“I won't do that, thanks a lot.”
“Fifteen up here.”
“Down here, too.”
Every ambition aloft in the stars
Will fall too fast behind.
“Houston, Challenger roll program.”
“Go you Mother.”
“Looks like we've got a lotta wind here today.”
“It's a little hard to see out my window here.”
Lest we break from somber’s hold
And fly forever upwards,
“Roger, go at throttle up.”
We’ll neglect the ones we left
Upon this sunken rock.
LOSS OF ALL DATA
*This poem quotes from the last recordings of the crew of the Challenger.
Julie Chung '21
Isabel Ruppel '21
I knew a girl who spoke five languages. One of the languages was just a variant of English, yet tinged with such yearning and admiration and poetry that I am sure it was something else. She used it to talk about the stars.
"Moon," the first word her maladroit baby lips formed, a mispronunciation of mom, so her father said. Before long, her face had slimmed, she had learned to sprint with the best of them, and she was shouting "nebula" and kicking up dust on the playground. She named her bruises after interstellar clouds. She liked to poke her stubby fingers at them and rattle off the names to me. She named my injuries too. Her kindergarten teacher had named her a linguist; her fifth-grade teacher had called her pretentious.
She used to drag me out to the yard by the wrist at two am, three am, and guide our conjoined hands above her head and point out stars.
She would name them. I knew the names, too, yet I can't point them out now. I always watched our hands rather than the night sky.
I would trip a little as she walked us back down our street after she had shown me the ones she thought I would like. The blue dark, heavy with summer's heat, would solidify underfoot in just the right places to knock me off balance.
She had maps and maps, some of which were hand-drawn with remarkable skill, some of which I still have tucked away somewhere in the recesses of my attic. They were just as dusty then, and she always got to coughing when she spread them open over the plush rug of her childhood bedroom. She sorted through them and rearranged them like puzzle pieces or sudoku tiles. We sat cross-legged for hours over her little masterpieces, and she babbled on and on in her foreign language until, like the calming sound of water lapping at docks or the soft murmuring of a stream, the sound lulled me to sleep.
I don't have any recollection of what I dreamt of then, and part of me wants to tell you I dreamt of the cosmos. Though, knowing myself, I probably didn't dream at all. She dreamt enough for the two of us, and would always be sure to tell me my dream in the morning.
She always left before breakfast. I think she was afraid of taking up space at the table. The table at my house was much too small for a household of six, and my siblings glared the very few times she had stayed.
I used to bring her coffee. Now that I think about it, I must have walked quite far during winter to deliver it. She always told me she liked my brew better than her parents'. My 'brew' cost 50 cents a packet. For a long while I thought she couldn't tell, that was until I started finding twin pairs of quarters in my jacket pockets.
My siblings called her 'alien.' Because she was thin probably, or because she was always talking about going home or going to space. My siblings had made the brilliant association. To be fair, it was low hanging fruit for a gaggle of grade-school boys. I would shoo them out to the yard when they got too cruel.
I don’t believe she ever looked any of them in the eye.
I remember the winter she started wearing hats distinctly. I must have teased her about it. She would regularly struggle with them trying to fit her hair—longer than it had been in middle school—within the strict confines of that knitted woolen prison. The night of that winter walk the crisp air stung my skin, and the wet snow seeped into my boots and soaked my socks.
She took my hand as she always had. Yes, it was cold out, but somehow her hands were always a little stiffer and more thoroughly cooled than mine. As I watched her raise our entwined fingers to the sky, I noticed how her pointer finger quivered.
I pulled that reaching hand away from the sky and shoved it into the pocket of my dark jacket. She didn't stop me.
"See, that was Orion. He was a hunter, the best hunter. Unfortunately for him, he knew how good he was. The gods hated his hubris. Scorpion sting is what got him in the end." She chuckled.
Something about her laugh rang false, but she had already moved onto the next constellation.
"Poor, poor Leda," she muttered, her breath forming little clouds.
"What happened to her?"
"So many unpleasant things." Another visible huff evaporated into the night air.
"Why?" I asked and squeezed her still icy hand.
“Because she was beautiful.”
I was with her for hours on the last day. I noticed nothing, nothing at all. We laughed, we watched awful documentaries. She ate. I lit the fireplace while we were home alone, and we breathed in wood fire smell and said horrible things about the chain smokers that hung around the school's bathroom.
She even pulled out a map.
Her hand traced along dots and lines in patterns still not clear to me.
I remember so much from those few golden hours. Her chipped blue nail polish. Her unevenly done lipstick. The chip on her left incisor she won after a wrestling match with some boy in second grade. Her split ends. The little red indents on the soft skin of her wrists she sported after hours of wearing rubber bands. The little bits of chocolate stuck under her nails.
She joined the stars that day; her heart gave out.
My first thought when I learned the news: I wish I had forced more sweets on her only a few hours ago.
They held a service for her; they offered food and refreshments after. I left, walked as far enough away as I knew I could return from, and screamed.
I couldn’t talk for three days after the funeral.
Every time I see the moon I think of her mother and how none of the other moms can look her in the eye come Mother's Day. And every night I close my eyes so tight it hurts until I can gather my own stars behind my eyelids. I name them.
I know she is all right, though. She was clever, always outdid me by three points on every exam. She'll navigate the stars just fine. She speaks their language well; it was her first.
One day I'll join her, and she'll teach me their names again.
Jenny Pan '22
Crossing the Border
Eva Evans '21
Sometimes I feel the music in my soul
And that’s when I know I need it most.
That’s when a piece of it breaks off like glass and nestles deep inside me
Where it can grow,
Into something much more than a note,
Then a story,
Then before you know it,
I’ve got a book on the horizon when I’ve got echoes in my headphones,
So let me listen,
For the things I hear will soon become more a part of me than you can fathom,
Ingrained in me like a seed,
It will reach,
For the highest star,
Through the highest limbs,
For the most sunlight,
And when it wishes to join the sky it sees but cannot ever touch,
I will feed it with the music,
And tell it,
This is where you came from,
Even if you can never enter the world which I imagine,
Hold the hand of the girl who fought the wolves so fiercely,
Touch the wings of the boy who flew among the planets,
You can almost.
You can sort of.
For a moment,
Feel as though
You are living in the world of dreams, of magic and waves,
Of cotton clouds and crashing symbols,
Empires at war and pages turned,
I give my friend my headphones, and I whisper,
It sounds like… she says.
I finish her sentence with my thoughts and we both smile.
It sounds like belonging to everything.
It sounds like home.
Alli Benthien '23
Emma Tishler '20
Tension divides every object, every fragment of light and sound
That surrounds us
Our hands are bound with slackened rope
That we claim is taut
A distant cry goes unheard
Each foot against the floor
Each arm that rests idly
Not by force
But by abstract restraints
We pretend that these walls are too thick to hear
We act as if there is nothing
That can be done
There is no ignorance
Resentment invades from within
Though it is never expressed
With a look that lingers
Or words hidden behind teeth
The hatred that cowers on our shoulders
Can only be felt
It moves too rapidly from one to another to be spotted
But we know it’s there
Let us all sit and assume
Let us sit and be comfortable with no acknowledgement
Allow the voices that permeate these walls
The voices that ring in our ears
To remain foreign
Let us mask our apathy with empty thoughts and prayers
And call it compassion
Let us justify our distance by writing a check
Let us turn our backs without a second thought
And call our silence love
Ella Xue '23
The Hitchhiker's Guide to Breaking the Galaxy
Kirsten Lees '23
The Void of Life
Stephanie Zhang '21
In the beginning, only darkness existed.
Then all of a sudden
came a blinding light
in which life came by
and two lovers formed a union.
They danced and played
but also fought and strayed
which ignited dangerous and fiery passions.
But despite it all
his love for her was infinite.
He stayed by her side
through the trials of time
and promised to take care of her forever.
So when she asked him for the trees
and the light summer breeze
he gave them to her without hesitation.
When she asked him for the skies
and the secrets to how birds fly
he continued to give
When she asked him for the world
like it was her oyster and she was its pearl
he decided she would have all that she wanted.
So when she asked him for space
he thought of the starry skies
and the endless night
and the darkness that held infinite possibilities above them.
He promised her she would have it.
When she angrily asked him again
he still couldn’t understand
so he pretended everything was fine
and refrained from asking questions.
he digested her request.
He could no longer treat her like the queen that she was.
no matter how much of himself he gave her
no matter how much of him she had
he could no longer offer anything that she wanted.
The chasm grew greater
the misunderstandings deeper
until the void of life made each unrecognizable to the other across it.
No more light.
Being alone, the frightened soul
Enveloped in the darkness of his mind
No sound, no noise at all, except for the echoes of his own breathing
They filled him with words upon words, creating a film of confusion and concern
Listen… they declared
This Universe was created for you to come to, but…
There is danger out there
A bitter aura in the air
An unborn plague just waiting to appear
After a while, this fellow woke up and he didn’t think anything of it
But the echoes never silenced
They escaped the REM realm and hammered at his brain
Yet he continued to ignore their worries and warnings
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear
And be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable
Maybe… this was not the way it was supposed to be
If only this fellow could see
Hannah Adler '21
Bless the Spaces
Andy Cao '21
Pacing the written song
Stepping between each word
What makes a mumble wrong
What bans them being blurred
The common space makes the lightest push.
The comma makes a fun, playful jab.
The semicolon is strong; it’s a guttural ambush.
The colon parallels the worst: an esophagus stab.
Spaces as a separation
Punctuation ends every line.
Sound to silence’s starvation
Holds and pauses by its design
Bless the spaces and their ways,
Alejandro Rincón '21
Julia Hoffman '20
Log Date: 8 01 04
Julie Chung '21
Brilliant sprinkles embellish the endless void. Each star sparkles with such zeal that I can’t help but stare at them for hours and hours. The immaculate beauty of space causes tears to spill from my eyes. I must push down this occasional swelling of emotion, for I do not have enough water to prevent the inevitable dehydration.
Here, nothing is in between anyone, not even any kind of medium to transmit sound or any gravity to pull each other apart. If you were here, it would be just you and me floating through empty space. I think that’s pretty romantic; after all, I was a decent poet back on Earth.
Although I have lost track of time, sitting alone in my spaceship, I hold onto my memories of the past by listening to the glitchy radio, which is the only human object establishing a tie between Earth and me. I repeat the same channel over and over again—a children’s show channel—and reminisce about the past.
It has been months, possibly even years, since I have felt any sort of human warmth or comfort. I am constantly drowned in terrible loneliness, but quite frankly speaking, it isn’t the worst-case scenario. At least through the windows of my ship, I can still bask in the wondrous scenery of the infinite beauty of the universe.
I just wish I could show this to you, I whisper to myself as I take snapshots of the nebulae with my eyes. I just wish you could be here with me. The radio crackles as I softly weep.
T minus 20 minutes and counting.
This is it. I’m off to see the stars. Years of wishing, months of preparation, all leading here. The shuttle windows make everything look so small. I can feel the restraints holding me to the acceleration couch, feel them even though the spacesuit should be thick enough to block sensation.
I never truly said goodbye to anyone; I couldn’t find the words. I had so much to say that it all got stuck on the tip of my tongue and I never said a thing. I wish I had managed to tell everyone how much they meant to me. I’ve waited so long, and all I want to do is go back.
T minus nine minutes and holding.
The radio buzzes to life. “Booster?”
“We are go for launch.”
Part of me wants to say no, to run away. It would be so easy to just say the words. They’re so small, so simple. “No go,” and I go back home, back to my family. I could go back and say goodbye the right way.
Outside the capsule, the first stars hang overhead, beckoning, set like jewels against a velvet twilight. Somewhere in my memory, my father stands with a little girl, finger outstretched to the sky.
“Sirius,” he tells her.
“Sirius,” she repeats.
“Beetle-juice? Eww. That’s a gross name.”
He laughs and scoops her up, swinging her in a wide circle before setting her back down on the dewy grass.
“Someday,” he says. “Someday you’ll be the one finding stars, and then you can name them whatever you want.”
I never got to say goodbye to him either. I stopped talking to him when I moved out, and I never got a chance to say all the things I meant to. And now he’s gone. I wonder what he would say if he knew I was here. What would he think of his daughter? I wish I had found the words to tell him goodbye, back when I still could. I wish I could have asked.
Last chance. No turning back.
T minus two minutes.
Somehow the launchpad is smaller than it was at first. But the stars are brighter. My visor clicks down into place, extinguishing them, but I can still feel them calling.
T minus ten seconds and counting.
I can almost feel the gravity disappearing. A dozen goodbyes spin in circles around my head, and I want to free them.
T minus five.
Too late now. I can hear the engines start beneath me, shaking my thoughts to dust.
Would dad be proud?
Krishnapriya Rajaram '21
You Gave Me the Sun
Grace Thompson '22
At first I loved space
It was silence
It was calm
It was freedom
There was no anger or cruelty or darkness
Just me and the universe.
I wasn’t sad or lonely
I didn’t try to suck anyone into my black hole
I was happy with just space
Because I finally had freedom
From subtle backstabbing
From cruel laughter
From that suffocating circle of faces
Now all I had was space
And that’s all I needed.
But then you came
All of you
And you gave me a window into something more
With you I saw glimpses of non-stop laughter
And fierce loyalty
And true smiles
You all reminded me of the sunlight good people can bring.
At first I tried to ignore it
To let that light float far in space and ignore its warm glow
Because I was scared that it would burn me like it had before
But the minute I was in the dark again
It became cold
I became lonely
So, for now I’m done with space
Because for now all I want is to sit in the sunlight
all of you bring into my life
So this is my official thank you
To all of you
For giving me back the sun.
Maggie Sanderson '22
Exotic lights wink and cry
Twinkling and shimmering
With mischief, hope, and delight
Bowing to the Queen of the sky
Each is a hasty, glowing gem
Stitched to the inky cloth
Its threads loosen and tear
So it may easily fall off
Or be swallowed in the folds
Stolen from our greedy, grasping
Hands that crave that alien gold
Or adventuring the unknown
The distance to fame: both expensive
And rare. But the gap, the space
Closes, and each day
We grow more aware
Metals of precious varieties
Untouched and undiscovered
The riches of a place
Barely kissed by life, we uncover
A world, a universe
Brimming with mystery
An ocean with deeper depths
A space with grand beauty
It is accentuated by those stars
The Space Above
Serena Kim '23
It is a mesmerizing moment when you tilt your head up to see the glistening stars moving in the night sky. The number of stars seems to be infinite; your head gets dizzy trying to capture all the stars and hold them in your memory. The day that has been seems a frantic blur of car beeps, alarms, and human interactions. Now you are swallowed by the serenity of the beautiful night sky. In this moment, I ask, “What is going on in space?”
Crazy things are happening at this moment. Stars are colliding, a planet has exploded, and a meteorite bigger than the sun just got sucked into a black hole the size of an orange. Compared to these intergalactic events, everything that happens to us humans seems minute and negligible.
But that isn’t the point. No matter what goes on up there, we still go on as if nothing has happened. Even if a star explodes above us, we still go to work or to school. Even if an asteroid destroys a whole galaxy, we still eat dinner as if nothing has changed.
I think it is important sometimes to keep our space from space and sink back into our own little lives.
Janus Yuen '21