Picnic on the Moon
After Bel Canto
It’s like that episode of Mad Men
Where Betty Draper tosses the picnic blanket
In the air except here
The trash hovers and does not drop.
Last day of our honeymoon
We reach for floating glasses of champagne
Remark on mid-afternoon stars
And the weather-less perfection of space.
We toast over the glow of sodium
And potassium atoms and the unknown
Others that shimmer invisibly
In our borrowed air.
Among neon, helium, argon, carbon
Dioxide we read, Many other species are expected,
And we wait for them
Whether biological or not
Whether microscopic or visible
To the human eye, whether friend
Or luminous enemy, we wait
As the box of crackers
And olive tin drift from our fingers
To some other galaxy
That will, millennia from now,
Accept our leftovers as a sign
Of life from somewhere else.
I reach for your hand but it takes
Forever since atoms here almost never collide—
Surface boundary exosphere, they call it—
So we remain in the pose of almost
Before returning to our thicker atmosphere
As we sit and stare and I stitch
The glassy lyrics
Into the infinitesimal air:
Have I ever told you what I feel
About what’s to come and the way we live?
Hila Ratzabi was selected by Adrienne Rich as a recipient of a National Writers Union Poetry Prize. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Narrative, Alaska Quarterly Review, Drunken Boat, The Adroit Journal, Linebreak, and others. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. She is the editor-in- chief of Storyscape and founded the Red Sofa Salon & Poetry Workshop in Philadelphia.