from 'Television' | Kate Middleton

12.


do you remember the space fever?: year of

Halley’s visit, year of the next flight, of the woman,


teacher, now astronaut: even Punky Brewster felt it,

announcing her intention to ascend: my family


took a telescope out to suburban lightlessness,

military, to see the comet: conditions, cloudy: my


brothers said they saw it: maybe it was there, but

I saw only grey of night: I remember being cold:


and there was the excitement of the shuttle,

the launch to be televised, and the teacher to be sent


into orbit: a lesson plan in dreaming: the scheduled flight

opened new possibility, ordinary woman, teacher


turned hero, scheduled for classroom consumption,

for space delirium, in America, past midnight


on this other side of earth: I crawled to the lounge

alone to make sure the VCR was programmed right


and then stayed alone to watch: at least I seem

to remember this: alone, not comprehending


those seventy-three seconds until later, blanking out

the hush of failure: and Punky, haunted by the failure,


Punky having nightmares, opening the lesion

that left her abandoned in the shopping mall, and now


sending the missive of her grief to the only place

that could comprehend it: NASA answering with


a gift, a moon man, Buzz: Buzz, always second,

Buzz the proselytiser of other orbs: Buzz, man


of radical perspective, Dr Rendezvous, survivor

of unthinkable dreams: Buzz, living relic of living


after: and the explosion a landmark for the psych

studies of trauma, how we process, remember, it:


the children with a photographic memory of that

not-quite minute and a half, the children writing


diaries, drawing shuttles, the children predicting

future calamity, just Christa’s death: it was pretty much


the worst thing that ever happened to me: and me,

who also watched, and replaced catastrophe with numb







Kate Middleton is an Australian writer. She is the author of the poetry collections Fire Season, awarded the Western Australian Premier’s Award for Poetry in 2009, Ephemeral Waters and Passage. In 2020 she was runner up for the Australian Book Review’s Calibre Award.