There were things I was sorry to see fade:
the haze of Earth’s atmosphere,
the last soundwaves from home,
and his fingerprints on my skin.
They sent him to sprinkle seeds
like fairy dust, to thaw frozen soil
with the warmth of his touch, to unfurl
green tendrils, rouse a dormant season
and remind life how to grow: stubbornly,
despite it all. But seven months is a long
stretch to travel somewhere—long enough
for the smallest kernel of regret to swell, turn
sour and sprout. If only it were just that.
Wildflowers have sprung from our garden bed.
I want to scream, kick, pummel my fists
but that would only waste oxygen, damage
the ship. I sit tense as a tightrope, silent
as a land mine woken with a click.
I harbour a stowaway, knees tucked
snugly under chin, silently floating,
curled inside flesh — cushioned and
weightless. The most natural thing
in our world is now worldless, blindly
travelling toward an unnatural fate
too late to terminate. I should have
listened to my mother, to every cell
objecting to the centrifuge, the deep
sea dives, all those times I thought
I would die if I had to live through
another day of training. But I was too
stubborn to give up. Couldn’t see
then, I was giving up everything.
I used to read the seasons scrawled
across the sky, watch patterns
track in arcs, look to clouds for cues,
spy cumulus gathering low and thick,
heavy on the horizon. Hear rainbirds
screeching overhead, question the air
to gauge the weight that threatened
to fall upon or shudder through me,
fathom how long I might have left
to shelter, or risk a last-ditch run.
Space wears no clouds, has no cockatoo.
No storm-scent stirs the soul awake
on stuffy afternoons. No change in wind
swings in to prickle pale, goosy flesh.
No cicada chant fades to hush
as raindrops hit the rusty tank.
No crickets thrum their tonal tide,
trilling me to sleep. Your small feet kick
me conscious, cramped in my cold,
climate-controlled bunk. Quietly, I weep.
Hard to concentrate on anything other
than those cells multiplying within,
performing set functions without
questioning—crafting the lovely, tiny
skeleton our blueprints dared to sketch.
The medi-display won’t quit winking
on my wrist. I worry what tales it is telling,
how long till those monitoring suspect
my duplicitous condition. That’s the trouble
with sending humans—we’re not so loyal
as Labradors, nor diligent as DNA.
People are bound to disappoint.
I am pregnant. And day
by day, the I falls away,
becomes vessel, protective
layer for my successor—
all mucus new.
Bearer of bloodlines,
turning in womb, feeding
on me, making me sick.
Without gravity holding us together,
nobody knows how a foetus will grow.
They’ll have to scalpel the child
from me, of course—our bones
too weak for a vaginal birth.
My body has changed
since leaving Earth—
defying its own evolution.