Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: What Positions Do They and We Assume In the Encapsulated Stillness?

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

Twenty years ago this month, NASA’s Challenger shuttle exploded, taking the lives of New Hampshire teacher Christa McAuliffe and her astronaut companions. Today’s haunting poem by the late John Tagliabue describes their ill-fated journey and the technological culture that failed them.

What Positions Do They and We Assume In the Encapsulated Stillness? by John Tagliabue

somewhere in a capsule deep in the sea
          off the Florida coast
seven visitors to the earth who planned to
          visit outer space
lie dead with their advanced technological gadgets
          and once active
mysterious eyes, all kinds of scientists and many
          argumentative committees
discuss in details the possible causes of the Challenger’s
          explosion, flaming
demise into fish-wandering seas. Octopus nearby,
          and dead sea captains,
ships like old cultures gone to the bottom. The many
          slightly alive
statisticians argue and probe and computers they think
          are at their advanced
command. How silent they are, the sky dreamers, those
          children in the womb
          of the metal.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 1997 by John Tagliabue. Reprinted from New and Selected Poems: 1942-1997, National Poetry Foundation Press, 1997, by permission of the estate of John Tagliabue. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to David Turner, Special Assistant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at poetlaureate@mainewriters.org or 207-228-8263.