When they chose us they told us
how from earth the Magellanic Cloud loomed
twenty times the moon
with a spiral arm that glowed
and spun silver.
We were five when we heard it,
our fingers pointing upwards
We spent bedtimes listening to stories of
Persian explorers. In the desert which once
blanketed Central Asia,
we imagined Azophi on camelback,
writing about the constellation in his
Book of Fixed Stars.
And in our dreams we rode
on an oaken boat with Vespucci,
who saw it and wrote a letter home,
said he’d seen three Canopes. Two bright,
one obscure; the cloud bright,
taking up a permanent space in our eyes.
they put leather notebooks in our palms,
telling us to write letters home too.
we filed into a glass cage,
with our fiberglass torsos
and fabric limbs.
Years passed, and one day
we woke to see the cloud
hurtling into our vision
and dropped all our pens,
which floated by our open fingertips.
As we fell into orbit,
we felt the tug of a foreign gravity,
and grew heavy again.
Our voyage ended,
a grey-haired professor
with a bleached aluminum coat
told us our last lesson.
Azophi was wrong,
and none of the stars in his book
had ever been fixed.
The red giant we circled
in that faraway cloud
rushed off with our years
Every night after that
we counted the stars that were left from
the ship’s silent window.
Those candles in the night
pulsed and faded,
faded more as the blackness between them
There will come a time
when even the explorers
have nothing left to record.
Tonight we will press our fingertips against steel,
feel them mold out this dark that only
grows while we sleep.