Fortune favors the cold
in the uncleared reaches beyond thirty AU,
shallows of matter flow friendless and parched.
Remnants of grit mark the dance-floor’s bound:
the resonant parade where gas grows taut,
where we circle like whales,
where worldlets broach the arctic ice
in a shower of nitrogen snow.
Here are the remnant worlds,
outlasting the silent chaos of the storm,
the prelude upheavals
and the cometary swarms.
Cold photons are swallowed, inhaled
through steel-hard ice, a soft-pulse
slow-sun birth of out-flung dreams
and geysers, grazing the dark
with stardust and things unborn.
You pass in a radio crescendo,
dagger-fast dandelion seeds adrift
on tinsel spars.
Then comes silence
and the craze, the haze,
the gentle rain of planetary ash.
The blue-bright cinder
as the snake-skin’s sloughed.
Giants falter. Tides fall slack.
It’s all here, everything that was,
that wept through the onslaught
of nebulised breath.
Katherine Inskip teaches astrophysics for a living and spends her (infrequent) spare time populating the universe with worlds of her own. She is a mother to two young boys, and enjoys chaos, water-fights, tree-climbing, and thwarting plans for world domination. She is currently assistant editor at Cast of Wonders, the YA genre fiction podcast. You can follow her on twitter @chesneycat, or visit her website .
Editor’s Notes: There’s a hint of creation story here. AU = astronomical unit (the mean distance from the Earth to the Sun. The trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) are minor planets in the Solar System that orbit the Sun at a greater distance on average than Neptune (greater than 30.1 astronomical units (AU)). The Kuiper belt, scattered disk, and Oort cloud are three conventional divisions of this volume of space. As of May 2018, the catalog of minor planets contains 408 numbered TNOs. In addition, there are more than 2,000 unnumbered TNOs, first observed between 1993 and 2018. (Cited from Wikipedia: trans-Neptunian objects). The image by Anna Maurer is associated with a possible new planet affecting the orbits of TNOs (See the blog article, Our Newest Planet: Is it real, and what can it tell us about our solar system?)