Edited by Andrea Spofford | Barry Kitterman | Amy Wright
My Atoms Come From Those Stars
—Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Yesterday I saw pictures of Pluto photoshopped as the Death Star.
The stars collapsed inside my father’s pancreas.
It took over four hours for the photographs to return to Earth.
My father would think it’s marvelous we’ve developed
a way to send pictures, voices, across the galaxy.
But we can’t figure out how to save people.
So sometimes we kill ourselves in tiny little cuts, like a thousand
Paper Cranes. We send rocket scientists to the moon.
We send probes to Mars. We cure AIDS. But we can’t feed
the homeless people in Santa Monica anymore without
being jailed. I wanted my father that night so I dialed his number
but there was no answer. I dialed my mother but she
was dead too. And so I thought about whether someone in the Post Office
had figured out how to deliver the cards and letters
I’d written these past few years. There was that one mail man who
sent letters addressed to God to Jerusalem for pilgrims
to place at the wall. I thought about how once I sent a letter to God too
and I asked for a baby but the baby didn’t come the way
I thought it would. That night I took the stained bedsheets to the washing
machines. The stars in Los Angeles were just as bright as
anywhere else I’d seen them. My father and my mother were out there.
A homeless man slept beneath a car in the garage of my building.
He tried to hide when he saw me. I stuffed my sheets in a dumpster
and when I saw him, I tried to hide too.