Diamond Dust

Christina Sng

Diamond Dust

In the reflection nebula, Messier 78,
Our scooper ship sifts diamond dust
Like baleen whales through darkened seas.

We are 1400 light-years from Earth,
Eager to go home, bringing Messier’s
Bountiful riches back to our loved ones.

In the faded swirls
We see suspended clumps
Of partially-formed frost golems

Drifting in the black,
Sparking the possibility of life.
Beyond our eyes

An impossibly bright
Perfectly-formed diamond,
A colossal gem

200 times the size of Earth,
Reflects starlight as it spins.
We enter its orbit,

Marveling like children
On their first visit to Disneyland,
At its dazzling kaleidoscope

Of shimmering rainbows.
I record and lay first claim
To the object,

Sending its coordinates
And the names
Of all our crewmembers.

The planet is now ours.
We will return with an ark
And our prospecting ships

To begin mining.
Our future generations
Will never starve,

Unlike those remaining on Earth,
Left to wilt
Like flowers in the dark.

The planet’s gravity
Suddenly strengthens,
Rapidly pulling us in.

Even at full thrust,
Our ship is unable
To overpower it.

Yet, we are in awe.
There is intelligent life
On this planet

Powered most likely
By white hole technology.
We send this data home

Just as we are yanked
Out of orbit and smashed against
The brilliant, blinding surface.

The object discards
Our ship’s metal husk,
Ingesting only carbon.

What it wanted all along was us.

Christina Sng is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of A Collection of Nightmares and Elgin Award runner-up Astropoetry. Her poetry has appeared in numerous venues worldwide, and received multiple nominations in the Rhysling Awards and the Dwarf Stars, as well as honorable mentions in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and the Best Horror of the Year. Visit her at http://www.christinasng.com and connect on social media @christinasng.

Editor’s Notes: It is noteworthy that some white dwarfs (the end product of a stellar death of a star like our sun after it passes through its red giant phase) could actually be a planet-sized diamond: https://www.space.com/26335-coldest-white-dwarf-star-diamond.html. And it’s quite possible to find red giants and white dwarfs in some reflection nebulae, but not in the ones that are stellar nurseries. Messier 78 (M78) is a reflection nebula and a star forming region which is quite young—about 2 million years old—in the constellation Orion just above the lower belt star, 1600 light-years from Earth. So it is impossible for it to contain any white dwarfs, but we can suspend disbelief in the case of this lovely poem.

The image (by ESO/Igor Chekalin) was captured using the Wide Field Imager camera on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope (La Silla Observatory, Chile). This color picture was created from many monochrome exposures taken through blue, yellow/green and red filters, supplemented by exposures through a filter that isolates light from glowing hydrogen gas.

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