Terraforming Mars

Terraforming Mars
by Benjamin Cartwright

I.

Orbits and surveys
mark the stubble and contours
of a red face–
those stubborn landscapes
of dust and canal
returned and embedded
with lenses and in pixels
until they inhabit dreams.

II.

Rovers and the fragile domes
of modules and probes.

The skitter of landers
across red plains.

The tension of caps and rocks
compressed to release

their breath, a slow exhalation.

III.

When the first rains splatter
on the skins of the domes
there will be echoes of home
in this newly pressured place—

our gift and penchant
for making a forge
out of every climate
that slips into our orbit.

IV.

The Boreal and the temperate
will take time
as the changelings in the domes
and descendants in the landers
spend centuries casting
the slender kernels
of redwood seeds
across the red face,
and changing countenance
of freshly named continents.

V.

The red breath thins
and dismantles
module after module
when the frost returns

and liquid freezes
and expands with the heart,
with the sharp edge
of what is lost
like atmosphere.

The lenses and the landers
remain.

The red echo of a home
fades before the blue
and green of the first note
it mimics—

an impossible lapse
in descendants
and diminishing scales,
like a dream
where the father
outlives sons who left
for jagged coasts and unknown shores.

_______________
Benjamin Cartwright is a poet and fiction writer who lives in Lawrence, KS.  He is the current coordinator of AboutSF, a resource center for speculative literature, science fiction, and education.  His work has appeared in Stone Telling, Sentence and The Stinging Fly.

 

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