[Aldrin] and Armstrong had only been on the lunar surface for a few minutes when Aldrin made the following public statement:
“This is the LM pilot. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.”
He then ended radio communication and there, on the silent surface of the moon, 250,000 miles from home, he read a verse from the Gospel of John, and he took communion. Here is his own account of what happened:
“In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.’ I had intended to read my communion passage back to earth, but at the last minute [they] had requested that I not do this. NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madelyn Murray O’Hare, the celebrated opponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis while orbiting the moon at Christmas. I agreed reluctantly. . . . I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility. It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”
The poem, titled “Upon Reading Canada,” was an epistolary one-pager. No rhyme, meter, rhythm, or purposeful cadence worth mentioning—“free verse” would be what they aptly call it. It shared with Mr. Collins’s poetry only its general typographic shape. The rest was a haphazard cocksure motif of Billy Collins himself, cast as the heavy weight champion of the world. You see, boxing rings have lines in the form of boundary ropes, which you must grapple within. This is metaphorically similar to writing, which also incorporates lines—this time, of words.
You can see that the Muses had clearly favored me with a friend request.
Girls Gone Mild pays tribute to young women who have tangled with corporations and campus authorities to challenge the status quo. One such heroine is Ella Gunderson, who at age 11 appealed to Nordstrom for more modest clothing selections. It began with a shopping trip with her mother, 13-year-old sister Robin, and friends. When Robin tried on jeans that they agreed were too tight, they asked for the next size up—only to have the Nordstrom clerk advise them, “No you don’t want that size, you want the smaller size, the tighter size, because it’s The Look.”
That didn’t sit well with Ella. She wrote a letter to the company (her mother didn’t find out until Ella asked for help addressing it) expressing frustration at clothes cut too tight and too low and clerks too narrow in their concept of fashion. “I think you should change that,” Ella told Nordstrom.
A few months later—while the Gundersons were helping produce a local Pure Fashion show—they were surprised to receive two apologetic responses from the company. Ella’s letter and the Nordstrom responses were added to press kits prepared for the fashion show. Soon the story made the front page of the Seattle Times. Radio and television interviews followed, including an interview on the Today Show. Today‘s Katie Couric also interviewed Pete Nordstrom, who acknowledged receiving such complaints from other teenage girls for some time. A question raised at a stockholder meeting pressed the matter further with the company: “What do you plan to do about the Ella Gunderson issue?”