At Holy Name of Jesus

on the dark-lacquered lunchroom floor
we sat crosslegged in our red, white, and navy jumpers
and khaki uniforms
watching the old
tube TV, transfixed,
as t-minus counted down to
main engine start
then liftoff.

After a minute
something awful happened,
though one of the boys
who liked to draw swastikas
in the margins of his notebook
whispered, too quietly
for the nuns to hear,


Our eyes glued
to the screen
with millions
of other schoolchildren
on that January 28th
in 1986
for the pall to lift,
for the shuttle to reemerge triumphant,
for the teacher to walk again
among the living.

When nothing happened,
the nuns led us back
to silent classrooms
where no one spoke,

with no one to save us.