Sharing Childcare with Valentina Tereshkova

Did I tell you before that she bumped into us
on her descent? No? It was edited out
of the official Soviet film reel, but, if you
look closely, you can see where the tape’s been

spliced.  She saluted, then took my proffered hand.
The helmet made speech hard and my elementary
Russian wasn’t up to it. Da. Spasibo. But she watched
you suckle as if this were the solitary reason

she had been in low earth orbit round our planet.
When you were done I let her hold you.
Your milky mouth marked her orange suit.
I don’t know if she rubbed it clean later

for she fell, when she’d passed you back over
200,000 feet of nothing, much faster than us.


Denise Setterington