“Solstice 2021” by James Cochran

This is how the year draws to a close:

News of NASA spaceship touching the sun for the first time! 
Imagine carefully crafted contraption careening through corona
at 62 miles per second! There is no solid surface of the sun…
“It is an intensely magnetic region,” they say.
“It is dustier than expected,” they say.

Meanwhile on earth, at end of school celebration in Tasmania
5 children die falling from a bouncy castle that has sailed aloft
33 feet caught up by gusty winds. Imagine escaping all the corona
here on earth only to fly away in a rubber castle…the chaos, the fear
the hard ground not forgiving young muscle and bone.
“Inflatable bounce houses are ‘not without risk’,” they say.
“Our hearts are breaking”, they say.

The internet tells me this is not the worst year ever to be alive,
maybe not even close. That would be 536 when an Icelandic 
volcano blotted out the sun, causing 18 months of darkness,
summer snowstorms, crop failure, widespread famine.

“Maybe we don’t have it so bad after all,” I say, and lie back
in my bed on a gray December day imagining a crew 
of ethereal Tasmanian kids surfing the sun’s fiery 
corona waves and flares in their impervious 
bouncy fortress, like riding on the back
of a giant phoenix.

James Cochran is a proudly Appalachian writer, transplanted from the soil of Southeastern Ohio to the hilly streets of Charleston, West Virginia. He embraces the practice of mindfulness through writing, and writing through mindfulness, and enjoys listening to the neighbor’s wind chimes.