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Our shuttle landed.
The pylon stood alone,
its beacon pulsing ceaselessly;
we searched the prefabs—
empty; nothing not nailed down,
not a footprint or any other trace;
we looked around the clearing,
cut from the dense native forest
when the colony was founded;
burned our way into the wood,
among the boles was darkness,
pallid growths like toadstools,
and scuttling many-legged things,
naught else we found
for hours of searching;
we trudged back to the ship,
paused, took one last look,
but saw no movement
save the languid beckoning of trees.

[Editor’s Note: Publication of this poem was made possible by a gift from Liam Corley during our annual Kickstarter.]

David C. Kopaska-Merkel won the 2006 Rhysling Award for a collaboration with Kendall Evans, edits Dreams & Nightmares magazine, and has edited Star*Line and several Rhysling anthologies. His poems have appeared in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. A collection, Some Disassembly Required, winner of the 2023 Elgin Award, is available from him at
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