“The Long Journey Home” by Lisa Creech Bledsoe

“The two eight-legged ‘arachnidnauts’—which the station crew calls Gladys and Esmerelda—are settling in nicely aboard the orbiting lab, already weaving webs in their weightless new home.” —Mike Wall, Space.com senior writer, May 28, 2011

It was a turbulent ride, the liftoff,
but it was spring, the omens good and
the smell of Columbia’s burning long gone—
the fear redundant but still necessary.

They look weightless, faint pencil scribbles high
in the corners of my bathroom, rarely rearranging
even a single delicate leg. Whispers
uncoupled from gravity and a bellyful of
patience, knowing sometimes things go sideways.

We call them all Charlotte and hope for messages.

What started as guidelines, signal lines,
x-and-o-mark-the-spot became every day spinning,
every night dismantling the old. This is how
the chapel is made: no praise, no blame—
a language of presence and absence.

They flew to space again years ago,
spellcast beyond a fretful sky where
they spun their filigreed greetings, frozen
and drowning amid stars. I think of them

levitating, breathless, Nephila clavipes
refusing to come down for air. Everyone
had been left or taken unimaginably far away
where there’s no phone service, where we’d
lost the compass or ballast or some damn thing.

One day we’ll forget our acquaintance with gravity
and revolutions. What time is like, this day,
this night and another—the windows of our world
boarded over but light streaming out nonetheless.

Have you ever found old photos of family
you never knew existed? They have gone to the stars
over my house, where it’s impossibly black and filled
with beauty. They have not returned. Or
maybe they have, but it’s hard to see them, hovering
over our heads, the sky, the next outer
thing we never dreamed of, shining and holding us
in their golden arms.

Lisa Creech Bledsoe is a hiker, beekeeper, and writer, watched by crows and friend to salamanders, living in the mountains of Western North Carolina. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of two full-length books of poetry, Appalachian Ground (2019) and Wolf Laundry (2020). She has new poems out or forthcoming in The Blue Mountain Review, American Writers Review, Sky Island Journal, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Red Fez, and River Heron Review, among others. Website: https://appalachianground.com/

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