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"I would have liked you to have been deep-frozen too." --Hawkwind, "Spirit of the Age"

This world is all we could have wished for:
The native life is edible, sub-sentient, and
Just dangerous enough to keep us on our toes.
The continents, dispersed within a sea that teems with life,
Provide variety in weather, topography, and climate.
Cyclonic storms invest the coastal areas in due season,
But we know how to predict their courses,
How to build against their savage surges where we must.
I just wish that you were here.

You and I had something special back home.
The sex was great, but that was secondary,
To your gentle insight. You should have been a teacher.
I visit your tube each watch that I'm off work
And there are many such; the years like leaves behind us swirling
In our plasma trail. Have I aged well, you think?
I like to believe you do under your frost.

We built this city out of magic, sand, and dust,
A testament to those who brought us here,
The lonely souls who tended us while we coldly slept,
Who, dying, brought us here, through the generations.
I like to think that you remarried, raised some handsome sons
Or daughters who, clear-eyed, grasped the tiller and carried on.

My step is slower now, but not my mind or memories --
I still visit every watch. Soon my tale will end,
Adventures that await you I will never see.
I could have found another, but no man on this ship could
Stand the shadow of your sleeping face. Not for me the
Heady procreation of our next-gen crew; those handsome
Sons and daughters who will carry on.

The years have grown and so have I, but I'm alone here
In the gentle breeze. I stare seaward, but I see your
Face in every wave.
I wonder: Is this madness or a dream?
For now I seem to hear your voice, to scent you
In the gardens rife with native and transplanted blooms,
Burgeoning in sweet harmony in this distant spring.
But no, this colony of thousands, humming all around me
Just beyond my sight, could be no sluggish fantasy of
Cryogenic sleep.

They tell me that you're fine, your vital signs,
Still steady at the norm, will carry you
Beyond the years I knew.
These nurses treat me as a final, fragile
Link with worlds we left behind.
But they don't understand: that link lies
Sleeping under glass, and maybe dreaming of the past.


Copyright © 2002 David C. Kopaska-Merkel

Reader Comments

Writing articles about ancient reefs by day and sick, twisted poetry by night, David Kopaska-Merkel has been called a workaholic. In reality, he is so lazy that clearing his calendar for sloth is a full-time occupation. David lives with a house full of artists and pets. His previous publications in Strange Horizons can be found in our Archive. For more about him, visit his Web site.

An aether compactor by trade, David Kopaska-Merkel began writing poetry after witnessing the Ascension of Tim. He won the Rhysling award for best long poem in 2006 for a collaboration with Kendall Evans. He has written 23 books, of which the latest is SETI Hits Paydirt  (Popcorn Press). Kopaska-Merkel has edited Dreams & Nightmares magazine since 1986.  You can reach him via email.
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