The Third Man
The moon men came down in time for the news.
Four. A woman’s hands busy at the bench
of pumpkin, spud, out of sight of a boy,
five, small. Occasional drawl of a moon man
above the white noise, of suds sucked down
a plughole, space laughing in the black gap
below Apollo Eleven. The boy
told his teacher he’d be Michael Collins,
the third one, orbiting, silent. Twice, because
she wasn’t sure she’d heard what he was saying.
‘The Third Man’, from How to Talk (Victoria University Press, 1993), © Andrew Johnston 1993, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archives 2004, supplied by the Braeburn Studios.