My Date with Carl Sagan

“Part of my message is that we’re not central to the purpose of the Cosmos. What happened to me makes us all seem very small.”

Of course he didn’t love me or any word like that, don’t be silly
Still, there was something there. Nothing too grave. Belief, maybe,
though he was bashful & concerned & did not want to talk about the sky,
enough even to mention a single sparse, cosmological being.

One of these nights. I thought, not meaning much
at first, then slowly dreaming up a story. It ends
with a recollection of the tile floor of his hotel bathroom:
so white it had almost looked pink. In the middle of it, I wake him up
and put a coffee filter on his freckled stomach.
I act like a bully: crying out “So there!” & laughing
just a little before I turn back over on my side.

There, in one of those worlds.
“You know I’m not a rich man.” Carl said when I asked
if I could kiss him. He had the look of someone
who had just removed a hat. Of course I was confused.
I was young and felt pretty. It seemed
like we were having such a good time.

Even and especially when they lay beside us,
we so rarely know what other people are thinking.

“Carl?” I leaned over. He began to cry and apologize.

Just then, I got afraid for myself again. Nothing new, only that old
tautological one: held in the body but rarely exhaled out or finished

–Before that chance came, he placed
his head in his hands, shielding out all of the light.

“I will never go to the moon.” His voice was shaky but certain,
and filled with so much despair.
I tried to shrug this, another thing, off.

If I could explain, it might begin where everything seems small and deliberate.

I took my bag from where it lay in the weeds
and stood up, to clear my head and better think of which part
of this would become the story, and what other part
would be left behind. I wonder what has happened to it, that other piece, if it even
still remains. Out there, somewhere.

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