Storyglossia Issue 44, May 2011.

Dead Astronaut

by Sarah Rose Etter


In bed, he moves against me and then moves away. I say his name whisperloud. I let him put my legs certain ways. I arch.


After, there is a space for sheet colors between our skin. He is not there, he is in his head or in Brazil or a place with rocky terrain like Mars.


I try to trick myself. I say to myself: He is still here.


"That wasn't so bad," I say.


He stares at the ceiling, breathes. He is floating in space, backed by stars. I want to wrap fingers around oxygen chords, tug. I keep my hand down.


It is late afternoon. His stomach and back are old, filled with spots, he is speckled. His body is made of aged angles, things I memorized with my eyes in the shower earlier.


The condom disappears. It is a sleight of his hand. I never know where the condoms go, not even when the sun is out.


He is standing, taking slow steps in to the air. He is floating into new territory. I am on a bed, under a blanket. I am still.


There is a far off water sound. He is at the sink. He is washing. He floats through a door. He is on the edge of the bed. I double-check. He is still gone.


This is when I am bursting.


I am full of words to say. I am so full of ways to fix his sad gnarled body that I could be a nurse. I want to put a hand to his back. I want a stethoscope. I do not have a medical degree. I do not move.


He is wearing a helmet. He is on the moon. The constellations are on his back.


The words become insects. There are fifteen thousand crickets in my chest, rubbing their legs together, playing a funeral song for the space man. He hasn't spoken since he came.


Even when he spoke, it wasn't speaking. It wasn't a word. It was not my name.


It was a sigh that cracked ribs, pushed my heart up out of throat, a red fist birthed from my mouth, a new fat tongue that quivered but knew no language.

Copyright©2011 Sarah Rose Etter

Sarah Rose Etter's chapbook, Tongue Party, is available from Caketrain Press. You can find out more about her at