The Five Questions — And An Answer

by Alma A. Hromic

September 22, 2003


You already have the what, the where and the who —
You know that it is we the people
Who have looked up at the stars with wonder
And saw our dreams of sending our own kind out there
To gather the stardust from the heavens
For those of us left behind.
You need all the people who understand how —
The scientists and the chemists and the engineers
And the people who write the code
That drives the computers that wake the rockets
Which will lift a human being beyond the comfortable blue of our skies.
Yes, we needed both the bureaucrats and the heroes,
We needed those who knew how to get purse strings untied,
the professionals who went to the parties of the powerful
and tried to put a price tag on starlight and buy the dream for us all.
But somewhere along the way the price became paramount.
The answer to the last question was less easy to come by —
Once an answer to "why climb a mountain" would have simply been,
"because it is there." No more.
The stars still shine on us from the night sky,
and their invitation is still open — but the price has been deemed too high.
We have lost the guiding dream somewhere in the back rooms
Full of once grand and rapidly aging technology —
We have achieved far more than people living only a century ago
Would have believed possible. And yet, somehow,
The means became the end, and we forgot
That the answer to the question "why?"
Is simply this — "because there is a sky."

The dream is a seed; it needs good earth,
And clean water, and the sun's light to grow it.
If the dream has been lost in interoffice memoranda
And budget amendments
And a wild fear of the price we must pay —
NASA, you need to do more than to prevaricate and to pray.
You need to rekindle the awe.
You need a poet.

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Poetry on Swans


Alma Hromic on Swans (with bio).

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Published September 22, 2003
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