I went to the asteroid to bury you
because the world had too much color in it.
I took a grimy tourist shuttle,
where the seatbacks played grainy footage
of the moon landing
and androids named Buzz and Neil
served tubes of orange juice.
When I tore mine open with my teeth,
the juice escaped as small wobbling suns.
I unhooked myself to swallow them
like I swallow your name. Buzz glared; Neil
asked me to return to my harness.
I docked over Yorick’s Crater and saw
new biodomes bubbling in the bottom.
At the duty-free, I bought the vodka
that made you sick. I rented a spacesuit,
boots and extra arms for digging.
The neurolink fizzed in my brain
like a soft drink
and the arms did a preprogrammed
dance to limber up.
You’d have laughed. I filled my O2 tank
at 35c per liter enough for us both,
and left the airlock.
I walked through stellar night, vast
and gray. Tethered halogens lit the way
and at the city limit, cubes of trash
floated in a minefield. I walked
and walked with loping steps,
staring up at a star-spun sky,
until, like Orpheus,
to look for you.
Your voice must have been static
in the suit, because all I saw were my
I stopped when I felt I no longer existed,
and told my arms to drill. They churned
in rhythm, displacing untouched rock
into a swelling cloud, but it was
too smooth and too easy so I
drilled the rest myself, until
sweat beaded and froze
inside my suit and fogged
I kissed your vacuum-sealed ashes
through cold glass. With vodka, I christened
the new crater after you.
I knelt in the frozen galaxy of dust and
pushed your urn down like a bobbing magnet.
That was when I realized I
had no way of covering you, no way
of returning dust to dust
and smoothing you away.
I couldn’t bury you
with a hundred thousand motes
haloing my head
or the hundred thousand words
in my desiccated mouth. So I said your name,
and it shattered on my tongue.
Rich Larson was born in West Africa, has studied in Rhode Island and Edmonton, Alberta, and at 23 now works in a small Spanish town outside Seville. His short work has been nominated for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award and appears in multiple Year’s Best anthologies, as well as in magazines such as Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, F&SF, Interzone, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, BCS and Apex. Find him at richwlarson.tumblr.com