Astronaught

I learned the difference between an astronaught [a. s. t. r. o. n. a. u. g. h. t]

and an astronaut [a. s. t. r. o. n. a. u. t] during the fifth grade spelling bee.

Well. They didn’t teach it to me in school.

But I think in space school they say something like “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”

But they never teach you how to aim or just how far the stars are from the moon

They don’t teach you that the exuberance of being in the stratosphere

doesn’t make your lungs forget the taste of oxygen

And they certainly don’t teach you that your heart is

a suspension bridge and no matter how well engineered, it always bows to the wind

Because they don’t teach you to take risks like they used to

 

They don’t teach you that no matter where you are,

your molecules continue to bounce back and forth,

faithfully keeping the rhythm of the world

Because once you’re up in space,

they teach you to neglect the laws of physics

and that although inertia keeps you going,

it’s much easier to fall out of orbit than you think

And once you escape centripetal force well you can always try again but

they don’t teach you to kick out furiously against gravity

Because they don’t teach you take risks like they used to

 

They don’t teach you that failure leaves two trails

One of remorse… and one of relief

Because sometimes we’re afraid to succeed

And astronauts know that but astronaughts?

Not so much.

They teach you that once you’re in space

you’ll forget about politics and instead

learn how to balance Africa on your fingertip

or how to reach down and pluck the Aurora Borealis

out of the sky and weave its colors into the currents

But they don’t teach you to take risks like they used to

 

An astronaught [a. s. t. r. o. n. a. u. g. h. t.] ought to know what astronauts know

They ought to be taught that neither the destination

nor the journey matters so much as the person who’s taking it

They ought to be taught that hydrogen peroxide is just a string of chemicals

and what really propels that sleek aerodynamic dream

Guide that inspired this poem: 

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