Around the 10,000th light year, you start to wonder
where you are. Out the round window, planets pass like daredevils
too close to their moons. Comets skip off the photosphere
of a sun in M47. A flare sets a nearby satellite on fire.
You hit some turbulence in a dust cloud, but it is only another
stellar nursery. All the protostars lie asleep in their cribs
like dragon eggs in a marsh, and the mass accreting on the hull
of your conveyance allows you to slip by undetected.
By the time you arrive at NGC 6193, your ship has been
reclassified as a dwarf planet. Local bodies orbit each other
like ballroom lovers. An asteroid is moonlighting as your own,
private moon. You’d love to stay and watch the cosmic ballet
play out, but time hardly exists at these speeds, and anyway
someone is expecting you. So you fuel up at the nearest gas giant,
drop your trash in a singularity, and slingshot yourself
to your destination using only the available gravity.
Somewhere between Cat’s Paw and the Lagoon Nebula, you alight
on a dark glacier above a methane ocean. Auroras rise
in the night sky like a swarm of purple monarchs, and the light
from your hut stretches yellow across the tundra, a radio signal.
In a world without trees, yours is the only wooden door. A hearth
blazes inside like the soul of an animal. You are greeted by fresh,
breathable oxygen. And a familiar, generous hand takes your suit
and helmet, melting the permafrost from your bone-white cheeks.
Eric Raanan Fischman is an escaped New Yorker hiding out in the hills of Longmont. He believes art is a game that anyone can play and that the full moon gives special treatment to Scorpios. His first book, “Mordy Gets Enlightened,” was released last year through The Little Door at Lunamopolis.