My brother doesn’t call me
on Sundays because he Skypes

with his new boyfriend, the doctor
practicing in Hong Kong.

They videochat while the moon
glows upside-down in Victoria

Harbour and it’s sunny-side up
again in Atlanta. They met

because my brother the mechanical
engineer went to China to oversee

the production of baby strollers,
glued together with yellow dust

and sweat for thirty-one
cents an hour in Dongguan,

slapped into a shipping crate
to be sold here. I knew things

were serious when they sent
each other the links to Google Map

street views of their childhood
homes: Buffalo and its drifts,

Brisbane and its bougainvillea.
Max is Australian by way

of China, which would complicate
things with Immigration except

they can’t marry anyway. My brother
sends me a video of Max he shot

with an iPhone in Starbucks. I know
this is not quite the Springsteen

y love story

my father imagined for his only son,
but it’s close enough for me. Like all first

romances—the kinds that unfold
in gin joints, whiskey bars and on vinyl

front seats and beach blankets
and over the very last tofu-bulgur

patty at the vegan potluck—
this one is laced with hormones

and great hope. When I ask what they
talk about, my brother says,

simply, Everything. And I know
what he means, because I too

used to spend the night sleeping
in the Cape Cod of a boy’s arm,

a ship snug in its harbor. This is
what form love always finds first.

We fumble through minutiae
before we can work our way

up to the big stuff. Years from now,
after humans have colonized Mars,

an astronaut sleeps weightlessly
in his apartment on the four-hundredth

floor of an arboretum high rise.
He spends the red evenings curled
up against his boyfriend,

and in those heady first nights

one astronaut breathes Are you awake
and the atoms will stir just so

and the other crackles back
in the dark Yes, yes         I’m still here.

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CHRISTINA OLSON’s first book of poems is Before I Came Home Naked, which was released by Spire Press in late 2010. 

Her poetry has appeared in Gulf Coast, Mid-American Review, Puerto del Sol, andHayden’s Ferry Review, among other publications, and was selected by Gerald Stern as the winner of The Dirty Napkin’s 2008 Poetry Prize. Her creative nonfiction appears in Brevity, Black Warrior Review, Wake: Great Lakes Culture and Thought, and was anthologized in The Best Creative Nonfiction Volume 3. New poems and essays will appear in The Normal School, Anti-, Gastronomica, Passages North, and H-ngm-n.

Originally from Buffalo, New York, she received her MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato. In a brief former life, she was a healthcare marketing copywriter who wrote brochures that gently urged overweight people to consider bariatric surgery. Thankfully, she is now a visiting assistant professor of writing at Grand Valley State University, where she curses the weather, digs the coneys, and helps put on the Cherry Bomb Reading Series. She also lives online

7 responses to “The Astronaut Falls in Love”

  1. Josie says:

    The classic story of love twists its way into a unique shape every time the it’s told. Congratulations on a new and simple, yet expansive telling.

  2. Gloria says:


  3. oh my this is gorgeous:

    simply, Everything. And I know
    what he means, because I too

    used to spend the night sleeping
    in the Cape Cod of a boy’s arm,

    a ship snug in its harbor. This is
    what form love always finds first.


  4. zoe zolbrod says:

    I love this poem. Love poem of the year!

  5. Christina O. says:

    Thanks, everyone–this one goes out to the astronauts, whoever they might be.

  6. Rich Boucher says:

    Fantastic work, Christina. Thank you.

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