Red Sky in Mourning Glory
©1986, 2008 by Midge Clark (Baker)
Through oblate spheroid of television glass,
Darkly and lightly in shades of black - white - grey
I await the takeoff with uncounted unseen others.
Ruddy flames blaze sparking the fledgling's tail -
Merging, urging Challenger upward on her high flung quest.
Inside her, I know, are The Seven,
Groping, seeking, thrusting towards Heaven's own portal,
Their purpose embodied in the name of their craft.
Telemetry from Mission Control continues
As thousands watch, politely bored.
This launch has been perfect, like the others before it.
Perfect...routine; no need for concern...
Gasp! Shock! Horror soul-filling as Challenger
EXPLODES in colors of flaming fireball!
For a span of time the masses of debris continue their struggle upwards,
Paths separating , but trying for more altitude still.
Then gravity grabs them in its greedy maw, pulling them back.
THUS to those who Challenge the skies!
Never the cocoon, the emergence The butterfly soaring on sunlit wings.
Dead. All dead. No one could survive that...
But I put it to you that they have not died in vain.
Look at the company they keep!
Sir Frances Drake...Magellan...Will Rogers and Wiley Post...
And all the unsung pioneers
Who died to open history's frontiers.
Seekers all, who died...trying.
Let us not disappoint them,
Nor shame The Seven with our planet bound fears.
Let us go on
Originally published in the first issue of Elysia, this tribute to the valiant crew of the Challenger space shuttle was written within an hour of that disaster. The facing page had artwork showing both Challenger and the Enterprise in lunar orbit, with the Moon as a backdrop. These last two pages are missing from my copy of the fanzine. I have recreated the poem here, from the best of my memory. Midge Clark Baker, February 2008.