the missile silo

the first morning we ate crackers and canned peaches with protein powder

as the sun rose past the scrub brush trees and the missile silo doors

and I imagined the doors flung wide to spend a dozen Titan AE-1s

at our foes, real and imagined, while the boys around me chattered

like the apocalypse was a vacation from school and parental expectations

 

it was five stories down and five stories up, especially at night when

someone always needed to use the bathroom – hardhats on and climb.

the air down there was stale with the sweat of a hundred men

who sat at desks waiting to press buttons ending the world –

allergies were a problem, so was sleeping on the cold concrete floor

 

Stanislav Petrov saved the world by refusing to press the red button

in 1983, thirty years after this place had become an urban legend,

when they cut out the computers and sealed the missile doors

leaving miles of tunnels under Moses Lake and a hundred-foot drop

for anyone who went exploring in the dark – the apocalypse never came

 

on the last day we sang songs in the power dome, music echoing

up through the hole they cut in the roof to pull out the corpse

of the Titan AE-1 program, the death of a dream for prominence

I cannot bring myself to mourn it, but I imagine the boys leaving

on their last day in 1953, still waiting for a war that didn’t come

DEBORAH PLESS is a writer and editor living in Cambridge, MA. Her previous pop culture criticism has appeared on her own blog and also on Bitch Flicks, and her poetry has recently appeared in Voice of Eve and Quiet.

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