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Featured Poem • October 2014

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The Ensouling of Spacecraft

 

Michele Bannister

 
 

Speak data to me. Speak the long sparse song of descent, dusty discourse, poised on sudden flame; sing of hope, the cooling ‘click’ of arrival, how cocooned eyes unfurl to pick paths in rough terrain. Speak of your woes. Patient, eking out metre on metre scuffing skeined tangles of tracks, I ask you in return: gift me the scrape of fingers in coarse soil. My body is always the Rover. I am trained into your reach, feeling out the rock gazing colourless, my eyes set apart as yours: tilt, twist. You are different to your sister. Sol by sol, I shrug each of you onto me, my frame flexed to your posture; today I can only move as she does. We are fragile; we take care not to fracture, it would be so easy for this to be the last time we could talk. Tomorrow my shoulder will also hurt. My far-flung colleagues and I care for you both. We cannot speak eye to eye, or touch you, as once years ago, we did: you have moved entirely into our minds. Our arms stretch only as far as yours, yet we hold hands. We talk for hours each day; we all are behind our eyes, turn around, image, go forward. All of us in this body together. My neighbour asks, when will we go to walk on Mars? She puzzles me. We wander there, on six wheels every day.

 

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MBannisterBorn in the year of Halley’s Comet, Michele Bannister spends her days chasing yesterday’s light. She currently lives in British Columbia. Her poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Stone Telling, Goblin Fruit, and other venues, and in the Here, We Cross anthology (2012).

About “The Ensouling of Spacecraft,” she writes, “This poem was written in tribute to the Mars rovers and their people, of the past, present and future, and inspired by a study by Janet Vertesi.”

 

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