Volume 30, Number 3

At the Air and Space Museum

At the air and space museum
my daughters and I learn 
the death of a star can birth 
a new solar system, 
just as kernels of wheat fall 
to the ground 
and scatter their seeds. 
As we walk the galleries 
with our astronaut ice cream 
we meet two space travelers—
Pershing II and Soviet Pioneer,
nearly banned by treaty 
in the year of Eliza’s birth.  
I hold her hand and hear Russian 
spoken to my left. 
A middle-aged couple in black 
shearling hats look at me looking 
at them and offer a tentative smile.  
I answer in the same language.
And then I see the activists, 
here and there, 
who kept heart and mind open 
to the terror 
while others built shelters 
of demonization and denial.  
They lost years, their careers 
and their freedom for peace. 
Now they hear how Reagan 
won the Cold War.
Will their sacrifices, their courage 
ever be acknowledged?
Muttering to myself I follow 
my skipping children to the 
carousel on the National Mall 
where locals weave through tourists 
and wind tosses snowflakes 
over the poles of furled flags.

—James Hannon