Size / / /

Gagarin told the women, "Do not be afraid,"

for they were astonished,

seeing his dragging parachute and his strange carapace.

"I am a Soviet like you,

who has descended from space,

and must find a telephone to call Moscow."

Fischer said, "Let none attend my funeral

except my Icelandic hosts

and my chessmaster wife."

Both came to earth.

Fischer lived long and made enemies.

Perhaps he was mad.

Gagarin, a short man,

told how beautiful

was the blue of earth, the purple horizon,

from the high vantage he had reached.

He died young.

Each championed

a nation tightroped above Ragnarok.

Gagarin said do not destroy this planet, so beautiful.

Fischer refused to play further,

called his homeland his enemy.

It probably was.

The chess man explored pathways of action,

the deepest of deep players.

Gargarin saw farther

than any had seen before.

Both circled the earth:

Fischer prowled its surface with his void passport;

Gagarin soared above on metal and fire.

Fischer competed and brawled. Even his will was contested.

Gagarin, in less than two hours,

saw the earth,


all at once.

Mary A. Turzillo's "Mars Is no Place for Children" won the 1999 Nebula. Her first novel An Old-Fashioned Martian Girl appeared in Analog. Both are recreational reading on the International Space Station. Published in Asimov's, F & SF, Interzone, SF Age, Weird Tales, Oceans of the Mind, and Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, she has over fifty poems in print, plus several collections, including Pushcart nominee Your Cat & Other Space Aliens. You can read more about her at her website
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