Man On Mars
Turning in a landscape of eyeless white, he falters
by Deborah Cameron
Heavy with strange gravity and life-support
suit hissing, machines talking-
one-ten over eighty…one-oh-three… point-oh-six…
breath, starting to hitch and burn now
as atmospheres begin to balance.
Hastily he searches this new world
that held such glory and promise, may still hold, but
something has gone wrong.
Where was the misstep, the alien microbe, the thing
he could not outrun or foresee? He had been so sure,
a star pilot in his element, armed with science and teleology.
What else could he have done?
He frets: what will the report say, finally-human error—
or worse? An awful silence now sings the end of air,
leaves only the false resurrection of the agonal breath-
or—maybe? —they will find him in time. His comrades,
he can still hear somehow,
carried to him across a cold divide, not by sound
but on the inward ocean of his name:
No pain…He can’t hear us anymore…
not long now…..