Chelyabinsk Airburst: Friday, February 15, 2013

Last month, a small asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere over Siberia, shaking buildings and breaking windows. Hundreds of people were injured, mostly by broken glass.

When we stopped sending man into space, space
reached down to us. In July, we rolled Atlantis into port, in Florida,
where even exploration goes to die. We didn’t have the decency
to let her sink, like her namesake, into an ocean;

But from some cold corner a colossus
split the Russian sky as passively as a torn seam,
pelted us with red hot stones and metal gods—
they howl in raptured free fall, a Blitzkrieg of soundwaves,

their fire-tailed meteors devoured by air.
We collect the shattered window glass as carelessly as
the injured, forget how thin is the membrane
between -11°C in the Ural Region and our ignorance of the brim

of space. We look skyward now, and imagine the craned
necks of brachiosauruses, are reminded of our impermanence
when a tail of firelight hangs in 300 miles of permeable atmosphere.
And no one died, not even after DA14’s sublunary flirt with Australia;

no resurrected Mayan came to tear out our clockwork hearts. Will we,
when Comet ISON makes its perihelion approach, concern
ourselves with its closeness to our star? Will we pause
in the moon’s penumbra as it passes over our sun?

And to the 52-year old woman whose spine
was fractured on meteorite impact, I want to ask:
Did you feel the cold let inside of you? Did he extend
a hand with mercy from the corners of space?

Kirsten Holt is an MFA candidate at the University of Central Florida and has served as managing editor for The Florida Review. Her chapbook, Overwintered, is available from YellowJacket Press.


  1. Brilliant! Love the photo there. What a crazy crazy event that was. Amazing views thanks to the car cams of Russia. Really strikes a nerve with me even though this was a couple months ago.

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