A few days after John Glenn orbited our Earth three times, Mrs. Murphy gave each of us a lollipop to make an astronaut.
I was in kindergarten when she counted out three pipe cleaners and showed us how to carefully, carefully, carefully wrap them:
one fuzzy wire around the middle, three times for arms;
one fuzzy wire around the bottom, three times for legs;
one fuzzy wire bent in circle around the top for the space helmet.
We were a classroom of John Glenns in different favors, with white pipe cleaner arms waving, cheering, pointing, celebrating.
We could not understand the vastness of space or the feats of engineering that had launched him into history, but we all imagined with our spacemen.
We were six; we understood the world was suddenly different.
My John Glenn, spaceman and lollipop, was orange, and I gave him to my father,
My father took this tribute and put it in his brief case, a high honor for a craft project. For years after, I would look to find my John Glenn in the brief case, buried beneath files and papers.
His arms and legs were always bent in celebration, and he still wore his space helmet.
Only his candy head showed his age, the clear cellophane wrapper protecting the orange-white powder and tiny shards of sparkling sugar.
“Space dust,” my father assured me, “he is made of space dust.”