As I chewed thoughtful fruit breakfast
Had three dilemmas in mind—
My young professor had become 91,
Two, those in charge had whacked us with an eternity challenge,
And three I had to make a visit to her
And was afraid because nearness to death,
Didn’t want to be near someone 91.
So that’s just two dilemmas isn’t it?
Consider, before we make our visit, eternity challenge.
It was a government-science dilemma.
Imperative to go far into space (well,
Just Mars, but that is far)
People upped to go and never return
A one-way ticket to Mars
Because distance and can’t sling gravity and money
That far to get back. Water there
Enough to grow food, silicon etc. to build structures
But planned to live whole life to end
Before anybody find way to propel back
But must go because all citizens of Earth must go away eventually
And go on a budget.
Well eventually wasn’t my job though awful
For these volunteers I think
Couldn’t do anything so switched to dilemma one
And got mind straight re 91.
Frankly she used to flash in class absent-minded
Bright babe. She let us sit wherever we wanted.
I rather liked hospitals, their cafeterias and guarantees
Of fixing you up, but Prof. 91
Still lived actively at home, shit.
I was nervous.
Suppose she asked for it!
Suppose she couldn’t remember the difference
Between aurora and aubade why I can’t either
Right now! I would be duh. She’d cry.
She would be unsatisfied and aggravated
In mind and body.
But this all was a projection as I ate my breakfast so
Relax. Really for five hours we watched them blast off
And then float around, on her big screen TV and
I got plastered at her delicious dinner for two
And she drove me home and reached over
And opened the door, a clear signal to get out.
That was the whole day and then there was the next
With its aurora (dawn) and its aubade
(Appropriate Vivaldi morning music on my machine as I ate)
Which they had on Mars—their own dawn and plenty of recordings—
And so forth everybody and me day after day
As the sun gets closer and we run, third dilemma.
Arthur Vogelsang’s books of poetry are A Planet (Holt, 1983), Twentieth Century Women (University of Georgia Press, 1988), which was selected by John Ashbery for the Contemporary Poetry Series, Cities and Towns (University of Massachusetts Press, 1996), which received the Juniper Prize, Left Wing of a Bird (Sarabande, 2003), and Expedition: New & Selected Poems (Ashland Poetry Press, 2011), with numerous appearances in anthologies such as The Best American Poetry (Scribner), The Pushcart Prize, The New Breadloaf Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, and American Hybrid (W.W. Norton & Co.). He was an editor/publisher of The American Poetry Review from 1973-2006. He has poems in recent or forthcoming issues of Boston Review, Gettysburg Review, The North American Review, The New Yorker, Poetry, Poetry Daily, and The Yale Review.