Christine Spillson

Ivan Ivanovich Descending

“Ivan resided, as such, in the uncanny
valley—a ‘phantom cosmonaut.’”
Megan Garber

Before auction and purchase
(by Ross Perot, business man,
billionaire), before
they filled the space around you
with space, around (the room between you and the wall
filled with a dog, her name
unpronounceable to me) you

with a dog, rats, between the rats, Guinea pigs, and they, too,
under your buttons, between your ribs. A metal
skeletal system, rubberized skin, stuffed with
Guinea pigs so you could be both
vehicle and traveler—like we all are
even if we never reach space.
They filled the space in and around you so that you could fill space.

They filled the silence, your silence and the rest of it,
with choir—multitudes thought to be less suspicious,
less concerning than the solitary. After all,
they would not –they knew America knew-- send a choir
to space, to orbit. But. A man, or not
a man, a replica in a suit with a dog, with
rodents—they might be suspicious of one voice speaking (a spy),

of one voice singing (a space-maddened spy) but many voices, an impossibility
(safe). Though a man with no nerves
or muscles, even if there are joints and limbs, when the villagers saw
your fall, they saw a body flail and jerk, took
note of its silence, its commitment to return.


Christine Spillson is a recent graduate of the nonfiction MFA at George Mason University and teaches at Salisbury University in Maryland. Her work has been listed as “notable” in Best American Essays and has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Boulevard, Crazyhorse, Diagram, The Rumpus and Portland Review.