06 June 2010

28 January 1986 / The Challenger Explodes

“...slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God”
(Ronald Reagan addresses the nation.)

The Crew

~Commander Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, Born in Cle Elum, Washington
~Pilot Michael J. Smith, 41 year old graduate of the United States Naval Academy
~Mission Specialist Judith A. Resnick, First American woman to orbit the Earth
~Mission Specialist Ronald E. McNair, Black belt in Karate
~Mission Specialist Ellison S. Onizuka, Hawaiian, Member of Discovery shuttle crew
~Gregory B. Jarvis, Payload Specialist, Private Citizen
~Sharon Christa McAulliffe, High school science teacher

The Press Coverage

roses bedeck a ceremonial breakfast table
smiles and waves line-up to blast off
ground crew present an apple to the
first teacher in space
after three days of delay
waiting for ice to thaw
prior to the last hurrah
500 spectators
18 from the teacher’s hometown
huddle smiles in the wind

The Take Off

73 seconds in,
clarity dissolves
in flaming white puffs
cheers continue
plumes plummet cloud channels
back to Earth
faces fall
to silent traces
eyes up

In Classrooms

televised images of
teachers launch minds
as lessons of exploration
turn into a message of mortality

I combined two different prompts for this piece. Thank you to Titanium for providing the prompt “Icarus” at One Single Impression. While I do not mention the Icarus mythology directly in the piece, thinking of Icarus combined with the prompt from Writer’s Island inspired this piece. The Writer’s Island prompt was “unforgettable.” The Challenger disaster is unforgettable for many reasons. I will always remember it because it happened on my 24th birthday. The ABC news footage posted here added inspiration for the piece.


anthonynorth said...

You've done a marvellous job with this.

Stan Ski said...

Fine detail serves as a stark reminder of the sacrifice.

flaubert said...

Brenda nicely done for both prompts and I was living in Florida at the time of this disaster as a friend of mine said 'Oh my god it has exploded!' And i thought she was crazy and then I looked up and my heart sunk in my chest!!

Tumblewords: said...

Excellent. I remember this tragedy. You've done a fine job of bringing it to poem.

Sweetest in the Gale said...

A tragic moment I will never forget...you expressed it very well in this poem.

brenda said...

Thank you all for your comments. This piece took a couple of days to put together. The first time I watched the video I sobbed. Stan, you nailed it with sacrifice. Brave people chart the unknown.

I'm pleased that you all stopped by and enjoyed this exploration. Thank you for your visit and for leaving comments. (makes my day!)

gautami tripathy said...

Excellent work!

help me rewrite Greek tragedies

gautami tripathy said...

Also, please do hop on the Monday Poetry Train

Mary said...

Brenda, a very strong poem. I was teaching 4th grade at the time and was one of those teachers sitting with my classroom full of students watching. It really is unforgettable. I can picture it still.


brenda said...

Mary, I was hoping someone who was teaching might share. I hadn't yet begun my teaching career. What a moment. Thanks for stopping by!

Guatami, Hello, thank you for your visit, and I hopped on the train! :)

Diane T said...

Wow, what a well documented poem. I was at home, on Pacific time, watching it live. After the flare in the sky I noted that Krista's sister looked away. That sister was the first one to know what had happened. I knew too from just watching her. Very touching Brenda. I'll never forget.

Loch Rob said...

Excellent documentary of this terrible disaster. It causes us to reflect on our own mortality and the path explorers blaze ahead for us. Well done.

SandyCarlson said...

Gripping nad heart-rending. Thank you.

Ron. said...

Brenda: Only a few moments like this in a lifetime. All of them crystal in memory, regardless of time's passage. You wrote this one perfectly. Thanks.

And thanks for stopping by Scrambled, Not Fried

Dances With Loons said...

This touches me deeply, I too remember this day, Christa was from my home town so the grief hit close to home, thank you for this tribute.

Linda Goin said...

What a wonderful way to document a horrific moment and to pay tribute. I was impressed by they way you laid out your information and the poetry. Nice mix of fact and emotion (can you tell I like this?)

Anonymous said...

forever etched in my mind... the folks on that flight lost and we all saw...

Anonymous said...

I remember the moment I saw this on the news in South Africa. Truly unforgettable.

My favourite line: teachers launch minds