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illustration of flowers and a spaceship

“Sunflower Astronaut” © 2023 by Romie Stott

Content warning:

[commence imbibition]

I begin my log in the seed capsule. There is little to report.
I am dormant. I am alone. I am drifting through the void.
Sometimes, I wonder what lies beyond the vacuum-sealed walls.
Sometimes, I swear I hear a very faint, very beautiful, song.

I have landed. Surface: moist. Atmosphere: favorable. Competition: unknown.
I discard the shriveled seed coat. Every cell in my body pulses with life.
Enzymes fly like meteorites and I emerge, gasping from my pod.

[commence germination]

There is no need to waste time with instructions.
I open my endosperm sack and gorge on the stored feast of sugar.
Invigorated, my radicle, that intrepid probe, plunges into the depths.
For the first time I taste, no absorb, the rich minerals of the new world.

My cotyledons unfurl like two green sails into the light.
Ah, sweet solar wind, filling my chlorophyll with galactic energy.
Gradually, I establish myself here, growing up and down, in light and dark.

[commence vegetative growth]

Forgive me. I have not been carefully logging my progress.
The divisions, they simply became too numerous to catalogue.
Besides, I was in a kind of trance, conducting the photo-symphony–
Keeping my glucose stocks fat and multiplying my meristems.

The important point is that I am tall with a well-defined stalk and enviable leaves.
There are other sunflowers too, and a rather impudent beast who is fond of digging.
All in all, I have adapted well. I am happy. Though I don’t care for the beast.

[commence ripening]

For months I have studied the sun. My head of bracts tracked its arc like an antenna.
Now I am a sun, with a yellow crown and a hot core of disk florets and pollen.
I, too, emit signals to orbiting bodies who come and go with fertile stardust.
Was this my mission, to set into motion a new solar system?

I merge with another star. My head sags under the weight of our fruits.
The inflorescence fades. The wind scatters my wilted petals over the floor.
It has become difficult to know where I end and where this planet begins.

[commence decomposition]

The digging beast beheaded me and made off with my seeds.
The sparrows peck at what’s left. Somehow, I don’t seem to mind.
Each day, a little darker, a little colder, siphons me away.

I said before I began alone, but now I remember something else:
Being a seed among other seeds encircled in a halo of yellow rays.



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

Raised in Virginia, Charlie lives with his partner and two cats in California. His creative writing is published or forthcoming in Naugatuck River Review, First Literary Review-East, and The Fourth River. A consultant for environmental NGOs, he is inspired by the humor and weirdness of the natural world.
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