Findings from the Spirit Rover
What I saw last, I’ll give you first: aluminum canister of holy water
On my grandmother’s closet shelf. My father’s written right on it: Lourdes.
Years, it’s been there, above the neat row of hangers holding killer
Polyester slacksuits. When did he notice it once held insect-
icide? Did that, for a moment, deter him? In the holiday hangar, a flying
“Inflatable lady” floats beside a space capsule. Is this dented Raid®
can all he could find? He rattled the patio door, dreamed of the nightraid.
I drag a strand of hair through the bathwater to see if I can stretch water.
My 2nd grade valentine: “I’ve looked all over for you,” (diecut pilot flying
a cockeyed spaceship.) Flannery O’Connor wrote to her friend, Lourdes
was not as bad as I expected, I took the bath, for a selection of bad motives.
We took the canister to the patio to photograph it. I turned killer
to the camera, so what you see looking at it head on is killer,
and if we take the cap to be a clock, screenprinted at midnight: raid.
She tells me, You can’t just drink it, you have to show it some respect,
raising a clear column, offering me a taste of concentrated water.
My hold has come in at the library: Song of Bernadette of Lourdes
on DVD. Of course, the ones who most believe her say she’s lying.
Always a new relic in his flight bag when he came home from flying
missions. Must be my mother made me this natural born speller:
what he actually wrote was L – O – U – D – R – E – S.
Snickers and Mars bars, a chunk of a pyramid marked in pencil: PYraMidS,
Egypt. Ashes from Mt. Vesuv. March 1944 in a glass Alka-Seltzer
jar, days 23, 25, 26, in his hand on the label. Days spent erupting. I inspect
the bottled landscape, sealed 60 years. Tiny lunar rovers modeled after insects–
falling engineered into their stride to manage the terrain, falling::flying.
In one scene: Bernadette on her knees eating mud in her faith for water.
The North Vietnamese had a saying: The man in the sky is a killer.
Last night in Grace’s book I found this, and in Bernadette’s letters I read,
Everything is nothing to me—after seeing “the lady”at Lourdes—
Neither ideas nor emotions, neither honor nor sufferings. Even Lourdes water
now banned from carry-ons; I left the canister with my cousin.
Long gone, the one body marked my father. Spirit sent back samples
only of ash. Opportunity, evidence, from its tracings, of liquid water.
“Findings from the Spirit Rover” is from Mr. Worthington’s Beautiful Experiments on Splashes (New Michigan Press, 2010).