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Launch Sequence

Gretchen Rockwell

i. final checks

It was dark in the room, my body backlit

by buzzing fluorescents; she in front of me, wing-

back perched, clacking away. For the moment,

we were alone, and I saw her eyes gleam in the dark

and we were both thinking the same thing, the same

moment hanging in the air between us, weighting it

with the pulse of binary stars, pulled impossibly

closer into the other's orbit. Her lipstick was a slash

in the dim and the moment hung there, the memory:

                    ii. countdown

                    appearing in the doorway of our office, bright red

                    smile and bringing me a clamshell of cold, greasy fries

                    and a pepper-and-onion cheesesteak, cherry coke

                    hair dripping and skin slick from the typical drizzle,

                    and just looking, feeling the inevitability of gravity

                    sinking its hooks in, knowing he would emerge and see

                    that red on my mouth if I thanked her the way

                    I thought I might, but didn't, and we missed

                    that moment, but here and now, it ascended—

                                        iii. ignition

                                        to gleam behind and around me. The carpet scuffed

                                        under my feet as I leaned down—so strange to be

                                        taller—smelling the deep spice and violet behind her ear,

                                        and when I kissed her or she kissed me her tongue

                                        was hot and demanding and I hadn't expected that,

                                        but a gut-rocket went off anyway. Remember: the rocket

                                        was always going to launch—that was inevitable. Try

                                        to be strapped in before the rush hits and you're blasted

                                        into new territory. You have to be careful with the thrusters—


iv. jettison

don't fire them too soon.               Make sure you know the machine

and how it moves out in the stars.               Learn the ways your practice

never quite       captured the sensations of navigating                        around

new worlds,       trailing shards of freezing crystals                 in your wake.

Embrace               the cold of being                                            in space,                         the loneliness.

Realize you are some small body                                                                                                           




for something.                                                                   Monitor the instruments

to find                                                                        

                                           where life                        might exist. Direct your searching there. See                                 if you meet


                         another being                 in the black.             Remember

the void is an option.                                           

Gretchen Rockwell is a queer poet currently living in Scotland. Xe is the author of the forthcoming chapbook Lexicon of Future Selves (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press) and two microchapbooks; xer work has most recently appeared in AGNI, perhappened mag, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. Gretchen enjoys writing poetry about gender, history, myth, science, space, and unusual connections – find xer at or on Twitter at @daft_rockwell.

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