By Jessica Cherry

Ravenous Chinook winds pelted the city this week, eating snow. From the Turnagain bluffs, I watched chortling Corvids dive and twirl in endless gusts of warm Pacific Air. How could a scientist argue that a bird isn’t capable of joy? And how does a poet know that a bird can’t feel sorry for itself? On the snowy steppe of Kazakhstan, the Soyuz spacecraft floated back to Earth with its precious cargo: a Russian, an Italian, and an American.

After 328 days in space, the American woman lay limp, but smiling, in the arms of a Russian helicopter pilot. Her body will remember gravity soon enough. When we first met, she was thin and lithe, with purple scars on her bare knees. I thought surely I was stronger, more experienced. Three years later, when I came back to Houston, her body was a gleaming mass of bulging muscle. They built her up so that space could break her down. How strange the prairie winds must feel after a year of still air. Raven, what kind of fools are we, going between this world and the next?

Jessica Cherry, PhD is a scientist, writer, and commercial pilot living in Anchorage and Fairbanks.

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