Chloe N. Clark

The Time I Saw the Earth from NASA's Mission Control

I’d spent the day staring at ceilings,
trying to find patterns to replace
spaces in my mind

memory is funniest when it comes
back to you—the memory of a joke,
of a friend’s voice, of a slice of cake
you ate as a child and which you thought
you’d make one day

I never made that cake, the recipe
gone, though I dream in it still sometimes
like I dream sometimes of people
I’ve lost too—they welcome me
back to them, with laughter, with

their voices tumbling out
no one I’ve lost ever forgets
what they want to say

When I stare at ceilings, I lose
track of the times I don’t say what
I want to, to you, to myself

After ceilings, I tour NASA,
imagine echoes of discovery in every
corner but its actually mostly
just cubicles, just rooms without views

anything could be happening here
but maybe that’s the thing about everything
important—it could be happening anywhere

In Mission Control, the Earth has just
disappeared from view, but you say
“wait” and so we do, sit at seats I can’t find
the edge to

I’m always most nervous when I’m most
comfortable, but then you say “look”
and the Earth is coming back

a shine of light, of blue, and then
this: the world from far away
all that ocean, all that land
all those lives infinitesimal
and extraordinary

“I can see the Earth” I say
but what I mean is: I can see
everyone from here


Chloe N. Clark's work appears in Apex, Booth, Glass, Little Fiction, Uncanny and more. Her chapbook The Science of Unvanishing Objects is out from Finishing Line Press and her debut full length collection, Your Strange Fortune, will be out Summer 2019. She is Co-EIC of Cotton Xenomorph. Find her on Twitter @PintsNCupcakes