Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Mystery Man

I wrote a version of this villanelle in 1999, and revised it in 2009.

It seems right to repost it, in anticipation of July 20, 2019, the 50th anniversary.

Mystery Man
One small step can seem like almost nothing,
a quarter million miles for three to fly,
as we held our breaths to watch that first landing.
Four billion hopes--a planet's wondering
reflected in the mirror in the sky--
is one small step away from almost nothing.
Buzz followed you, while Mike was orbiting.
How could your tiny step not make us cry
as we breathlessly watched that first landing?
The media frenzy you found stifling,
a leap to fame that you would soon decry.
One small step can seem like almost nothing.
Who is this man? The press is suffocating.
Cocooned within your silence you just sigh,
and hope news will eclipse the first landing.
Mystery Man, no moon songs do you sing.
Can astronauts be brave, but also shy?
One small step that changes everything
at once. We exhale, hope for safe landing.
Copyright  2014 by Barbara Etlin, all rights reserved.


  1. I imagine Neil Armstrong felt he had said and done all he would ever say and do after that landing. <3

  2. It does seem so. No need for any interviews or explanations, even if the public craved them.

  3. This is beautiful Barb. My brother remembers the moon landing--he was bedridden at the time and had his ear glued to the radio. I thought he was making up a fantastic story!!! It *is, of course.

  4. Thanks, Vijaya. It was a unique and soul-stirring event. My family watched on black-and-white tv, and I remember holding my breath and crying.


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