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Ex Luna Tantum Mors

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Sunrise is simple here.
First: inky black sprinkled with stars
unnaturally steady
never deigning to shimmer.
Then: the sun creeps over the horizon,
effacing the midnight’s darkness.
No fanfare.
Just like everything here.

It’s not like home
where first the sky lightens imperceptibly
Apollo’s chariot heralded by
tawny clouds
and cinnabar skies.
Home.

It’s been three years already –
I laugh derisively,
pause my monotonous work
the only novelty, the bleak environment.
I could order robots around from anywhere.
From Earth

where I could have been a true scientist.
From home

where even the lowest can breathe living air.

Home.
I whisper into the crackle of the silent radio.
No satellite flies overhead right now.
The census of all humanity:
twelve billion on Earth
one hundred braving the stunning bright of the near side,

home yet a beacon in the blackest sky
three, orbiting miles up
and me.

And me.

God only knows what else is out there
but as far as I’m concerned,
this is it.
I’m it.
The furthest vestige of intelligent life in the universe.
What an honor.

I laugh bitterly,
knowing how little that matters.

I came here imbued with naïveté,
sacrificing myself on the altar of industry
prostituting my science for the sake of my children
yet still chanting the mantra of a long-forgotten rescue
almost a century past:

<i>Ex luna, scientia.</i>
More like “ex luna, aurum.”

seductive shining metals tantalizing us from the sky.

It’s a sin, you know, to destroy something beautiful -
at least the fire and brimstone will be warm,
a welcome change from the mines
that have been my warden
for countless sunrises
my Hell of human making.

Trapped in the bright white prison of Tsiolkovsky -
how could I have ever thought this was beautiful -
I suddenly long to glimpse my planet
even for just a moment,
to rest my gaze on the impossibly blue marbled orb that
watches constantly over the lucky angels
-lucky <i>bastards</i> –
who can see it.

I long for real human touch
unmediated by layers of protective clothing.
I yearn to hear a voice
undistorted by thousands of miles
undelayed by the speed of light.

I slide my visor up,
look one last time at the stars
eerie and unblinking,
at the desolate landscape
unforgiving and cold,
at the horrors I wrought.



I release the catch.
The tiniest hissing sound emanates,
the wisp of air inside
greedily torn away by the vacuum of space.

With my last breath
I remove my helmet and lay in the shallow crater
I picked for its perfect size
ignoring the now-frantic calls from the tiny moving light above me
listening to the panicked beating of my heart
as midnight finally envelops me, too.
<i>Ex luna, tantum mors.</i>





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