Did I see it? I really don’t know. I hope so.
I have vague memories of lying on the floor, barely awake,
Staring at a flickering screen as Armstrong,
Little more than a kaleidoscopic chaos of white and grey
Made his way down the ladder and stepped onto the Moon,
But are my recollections real?
I was not quite 5 years old when Eagle
Folded her gold foil wings and nested in Tranquility’s dust,
So was I actually in bed, fast asleep,
Unaware that downstairs history was streaming through our TV?
Did I doze and dream through the First Man’s speech?
Did I miss him reaching out to plant that famous flag
In Luna’s unforgiving dirt? Worse, did I snore quietly through
The whole Bold adventure?
I asked my mother: “Did I really watch him walk upon the Moon?”
But her memories of that day are cobwebbed, incomplete,
And she can shine no maternal spotlight on the mystery,
Leaving me to wonder if my “memories” are real
Or merely replays of replays shown on TV
In the years that followed Man’s shameful lunar retreat.
Perhaps, then, I didn’t see that One Small Step live?
Perhaps I am merely remembering watching Bean, Schmitt
And Scott happily lolloping happily along, and not Armstrong?
I know for a fact I watched later moonwalks live,
Those memories are sharp as fresh-chipped flint and clear as glass.
At school: my chattering class herded en-masse into the Big Hall
To worship before the Big TV… sitting, knees together,
In obedient rows on the cold wooden floor… being told
“This is important, pay attention, one day this will all be History…”
Of course, soon all my classmates’ eyes had drifted from the screen,
Their magpie minds distracted by something else they’d seen,
But my eyes lingered on the grainy scenes; something in me
Did not want to look away, could not be made
To look away, and it was on those long days, I see now,
That my life was shaped.
…But still I wonder, did I really fight sleep to see
Armstrong walking on the Moon?
Or was it just too soon?
© Stuart Atkinson 2009