a poem by Lily Shen
I am a wanderer.
I am familiar with how the Milky Way sets
on the horizon, the way the universe dies,
the language of the stars.
Seen the world-top
from pink clouds and sipped
Flirted with comets.
I know that time is temporary. Yet
the reminder burns as I
place my fingers to the torrid dust,
breathe the decay.
The ground recoils at my touch.
of my footfalls reverberate through the planet
as if hollow.
This is what they used
to call Earth.
I can tell it is lonely.
Others like me have no desire to pay visit
to this once blue-green pellet that sits in oblivion.
A corner of its forgotten heliocentric system.
barren land and looming monsters that
brokenly splutter black smoke.
Never ending dunes of debris
soft between my toes.
This is a place God has abandoned.
is foreign to me. Yet
I am filled with it
at the sight of these armageddon red skies and
Walking in solitude
I explore slowly the sense of
Upon the one hundred and eighty fifth dune I
the silence dies.
I feel it instantly.
Sun catches silver, watch as a little creature
emerges from the yellow.
It is metallic, a box on four wheels.
Creature holds a flower.
I greet it.
Creature tilts its crane
as if it were a child.
“Robot.” It beeps hesitantly. “Robot.”
Sand shifts under its wheels.
Robot contemplates, then plants the rose
into the ashes.
“It will die,” I tell it.
“No,” Robot replies.
And after, I follow its trail.
As we cross the
Weathered rib cages
Robot keeps on planting.
Four letters engraved
into its shell—
I learn that its name is H O P E.
H O P E is the legacy of mankind.
Of an era
now dead and buried.
Charged with the adornment of an empty shell,
tending to a sleeping garden.
With the await of a new age.
“Why?” I ask.
Life is dead. It will not come back.
“One day.” H O P E replies.
It continues to say this for fifty decades.
One night, H O P E makes Fire.
From night till dawn, I sit.
Listening to its hiss,
feeling its burn.
I have not seen Fire before.
Stings my insides as I breathe, bears a tang
of poison and pure heat.
It smells like life.
Shadows against the walls of the cave,
I am encapsulated in its dance.
“Tell me about the humans.” I whisper.
And it does.
It spins me a history.
Not of demise, misery, of their fall from grace.
Not black fumes and broken glass on which
It tells me of the beginning.
The discovery of fire, the first man to see his reflection
in these flames.
Empires that rise and fall, the only thing
they leave behind--their tales of
It tells me of the humans’
The yearning for a friend
in the great big world outside.
to explore their tiny wedge of the universe.
It tells me of the battle they fought
against themselves and
How they assembled a box on four wheels and named it
H O P E
allowed it to inherit the future.
Cleanse Earth of their bones
so that they may one day come home.
H O P E waits for another century.
Dutifully follows the
Everyday, lays a flower down. And
everynight, pretends to watch the stars.
But the stars do not shine for us, not here.
Not through these walls of smoke, miles and miles.
Not for this insignificant little robot.
Some days, the ruins whisper to us.
“Soon.” H O P E echoes.
We arrive in a valley, once.
What used to be a great, deep,
Now stark, windswept jaws of stone
open in a snarl at the ashen sky.
H O P E falters for the first time.
And so I do.
The field of flowers seem
out of place
among the knife edge rocks and malicious gravel.
But there it is.
They wave at us.
Yellow, pink, red. Too much color.
Defiant under the eternal summer scorch,
crawling up the ragged prison walls.
Gently in the wind. Brilliant.
“It is your garden,” I tell H O P E.
It sets a yellow blossom into the ground.
It is hard to understand the rules
in a world like this.
A world that is
Trial and error.
rinse and repeat.
I do not understand H O P E
but I begin to believe in it.
When I leave, I take eight buds with me.
I am a wanderer.
But wherever the wind and
the stars take me,
I will plant these seeds
And I know that
I will return. And I will see Earth
Cover Photo Source: Dribbble.com