Voyage Season

Eva Papasoulioti

Voyage Season

There are travelers who come back. Not many, but
hope bites through bones, and your bones were already
frail, eaten by pesticides and acid rain. The world beyond
our world is vast, takes sacrifice, cowardice
and gritted teeth to see it.

            The first time we met, in your small garden, you were digging
            around your pink geraniums, gloves forgotten, nails dirty, knees muddy.
            I always wanted to travel among the stars but here I was scorched by the sun smiling.

There are many kinds of leaving: birds to warmer climates
rats to save themselves, balloons to the sky, fears,
legacy, yesterdays, aloneness. I didn’t look back, you weren’t
there anyway. I have to wonder if me leaving, makes you
earth.

            The last dawn I held you, you slipped through my fingers, closed your eyes<
            and wiped out the stars as you turned into nebula.
            You embraced Alcyone at night the way you wrapped
            around me, bright, fiercely, knowing you won’t have to let go
            of her.

Space lies. It whispers in the emptiness of glory and potential
lost in thick darkness and endless sleep and a thousand
hours wrapped in cold metal, your laughter ricocheting
from my ribcage to the window panes to my dreams.

            The first and last letter you ever wrote to me, I kept to read
            when we were out of the solar system. Words swam, swallowed
            the paper of a not-yet-dead world drenched in salt and raw<
            desperation and hidden between the lines
            a long-dead geranium blossom I pierced
            into my left breast.

The captain goes down with the ship, they say. Floats in the void,
last oxygen, last thoughts. Once, there was a traveler who came
back, bringing home stories of unexplored planets underneath
the ocean and suns burning suns burning stars. I wish
my thoughts of you burned like oxygen.

            That last kiss was a voyage into the depths
            of who I might have been had I stayed with you.
            Supernova, a shipwreck that bleeds hope and future. I left you,
            a shipwreck        in the stars.

_______________

Eva Papasoulioti is a writer of speculative fiction and poetry. She lives in Athens, Greece, and translates words for a living. Her stories and poetry have appeared in Syntax & Salt, Twisted Moon and Umbel & Panicle. You can find her on twitter @epapasoulioti and on her blog plothopes.com.

Editor’s Notes: This experimental two-voice poem (arguably an external vs. internal narrator or, better yet, a general voice to all listeners vs. a voice to a lost lover) has a heartbreak longing. The Pleiades mentioned in the poem is a striking reflection nebula—it’s beautiful, yet lonely. That image is contrasted with a blue colorized geranium (the original flower is white & red by the-night-bird on Deviant Art). A high-tech spaceship is overlaid.

[Fred Espenak posted the image of M45 at EarthSky Facebook (November 18, 2018). He wrote: “M45, the Pleiades star cluster. It’s visible on November nights in the eastern sky as a tiny dipper-shaped clump of stars. Definitely one of the most beautiful open star clusters in the sky. This image is a stack of 20 individual 5-minute exposures through a Takahashi Epsilon 180ED Hyperbolic Astrograph using a Canon 6D DSLR.”]

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