First the unexpected silence,
Main engine start;
Billows of cloud pour into the silence, softening it.
But only for a moment.
Then the cheer goes up, the unending exultation
That is drowned only by the sound of thrust
Rippling the air, the ground,
Our clothes bits of fabric that ripple like fragile flags
With the power of distant flight.
Then the sound, that stuttering roar,
Echoed by the roar of the crowd.
For a few moments, the sky has two suns,
One a burning flame, a mechanical torch shot out to light the darkness,
Poised atop a pillar of smoke, dancing up and away.
Then the torch becomes a candle, then an ember
Falling toward our horizon as it reaches for orbit
On the other side of the sky.
The roar is gone,
The shudder of thrust has moved into our hearts, our guts.
It is in our marrow, impelling us outward and upward.
We are launched into a new life, a new world,
Opening eyes new-burned in the rocket-fired twilight.
Our next steps onto the grass are our first:
Still unsteady, but the slow beginnings of flight.