About the poet
In May 2019, Simon Armitage (b. 1963) was named as the UK's Poet Laureate, an appointment...
The English Astronaut
I watched through a coin-op telescope jammed
with a lollipop stick as a trawler fished him out
of the waves and ferried him back to Mission
Control on a trading estate near the Humber
Bridge. He spoke with a mild voice: yes, it was
good to be home; he’d missed his wife, the kids,
couldn’t wait for a shave and a hot bath. ‘Are
there any more questions?’ No, there were not.
I followed him in his Honda Accord to a Little
Chef on the A1, took the table opposite, watched
him order the all-day breakfast and a pot of tea.
‘You need to go outside to do that,’ said the
waitress when he lit a cigarette. He read the
paper, started the crossword, poked at the black
pudding with his fork. Then he stared through
the window for long unbroken minutes at a time,
but only at the busy road, never the sky. And his
face was not the moon. And his hands were not
the hands of a man who had held between finger
and thumb the blue planet, and lifted it up to his
from Seeing Stars (Faber, 2011), © Simon Armitage 2011, used by permission of the author and the publisher
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