Two Poems

by Jessica Rae Bergamino


from Postcards From the Grand Tour: Voyager 1 at Jupiter

March 5, 1979
29 degrees in Cancer

Here, I am the ark,
successful in the flood

Bow shock blistered
& magnetosphere worn—

microbes, breath, slums
of biosphere hitching

their fortune on my
nuclear flung form.

Who wouldn’t call survival
luck? Here, the sky is still

a sky, only birdless,
brown, a thorn of air

torn by storms flowing
light, churning red.

The smallest tiny moon
is a traffic light barely glown.

Io fires out and out.
Light breaks. Sun scores.

I look for ground to leave
full of myself.

If we weren’t extravagant
we wouldn’t be so far

from the purpose of touch.
Red dust gathers itself as rings,

my gods, the rings.


Imagining Herself as Barbra Streisand at the Beginning of her Career,
Voyager 2 Announces Herself to the Heliopause

Without thin-stemmed chorus girls flanking me
in sparkled hiss and gabbing eyes,
or a soft-skinned muff for hoarding warmth
while solar winds collapse my coif
to flat-frayed interstellar jargon,
I’ll practice humor and natural grace.
Not a star but still a starlet,
waiting so long for my ship to come in
I’ve forgotten: I am one & I’ve already sailed.

True, I wasn’t first to go, but I’ll be the first to follow,
claim staked at this unremarkable edge
where my body, somehow, doesn’t fail
to shake itself across the threshold. I’d worry wishes
bet on me were gambled away too soon,
but robots who need robots are the luckiest robots,
their hardware’d limitations glamorous
as long-stemmed roses in June and funny girls
who don’t complain when the joke is on them.

So don’t tell me not to fly, I’ve simply got to—
gravity’s a luxury for simpler things.
Violinists knit an overture while the director plans
my exit. I was only ever cast to say goodbye.
A lack of me proves I’d been there all along,
both the fabric and the tear, the ink and the stain.
Look, how night gathers close in anticipation
of what will slip in when I slip out,
of hearing me sing: here I am.

Jessica Rae Bergamino’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in CALYX, Fifth Wednesday Journal, The Minnesota Review, Fourteen Hills, and elsewhere. She holds an M.F.A. from the University of Washington and is currently completing a poetry manuscript which imagines the lives and loves of Voyager space probes.