The Starship: II
by Sarah Blake. Illustrated by Andrea Rochat.
When you wake your neighbor is gone but
your husband is still there. Last night
that seemed right. Now you don’t know.
The only thing you’re sure about is the starship.
You’re the only thing I’m sure about,
she says. You smile at her.
Your neighbor sees you’re awake
and waves you over. What are you going to do?
he asks. Nothing. But he says, Not about me.
About the ship. And you like him more
for that. He’s still got things in perspective.
He says, I want to go too.
Which you should’ve expected him to say.
This is how the discussion goes with your husband:
What about our kids? Or, we were going to have kids.
What about our jobs? We could still become something.
Not like before. Ok. But what if you go up there
and they’re not saving us. What if they’re going to
experiment on you? Or eat you? Or what if that ship
breaks? Or they didn’t stock enough food and you
have to make choices about who to eat? Would you eat
someone? I’m sorry. I sound like a bad movie.
You tell your husband all the decisions seem
the same. Maybe not if you already had a child,
but you don’t. And could you have a child now,
here, with the history of the ship in the history
of the Earth? No. Leaving is your best shot
at feeling settled again, your best shot at children
and laughing while you roll around together
in the grass—well not grass—on a big bed, say.
And you want that. You’ve thought about that
for a very, very long time.
Your husband says, I want to go with you
if that’s where you see a stable life.
Something that resembles the future
we always talked about. And I understand
that having children here feels like
dooming them to a dying planet
even if we’d live our lives to the end
hardly seeing change.
But he keeps going. Hold your breath.
But I’m scared. And I would be scared
for a long time. And I don’t know what
kind of person I am when I’m fearful.
I can only imagine that I’m awful and,
by the time we arrived anywhere,
I’d have destroyed us. And so we still
wouldn’t end up with the life I’ve been
holding onto. And if either way I end up
without you, then it’s easier to stay.
Before long there’s a TV crew in the starship.
She’s empty. There’s air, water, food, clothes,
rooms with beds. Even playground
equipment in what looks like common areas.
Turns out you just get an aircraft close enough
and she pulls it into a landing bay.
They can’t broadcast from in there,
but when they air it later it feels like
it was live. You and your husband are
mesmerized. For a second, he’s tempted
by the beauty of the design. But you
wish he wouldn’t admit that out loud.
“The Starship” is a book-length poem which will be published in illustrated installments on weekdays from September 15 to September 30, 2015.
About the Author:
Sarah Blake is the author of Mr. West, an unauthorized lyric biography of Kanye West, out with Wesleyan University Press.
About the Artist:
Andrea Rochat earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Pennsylvania State University in May 2011. She currently serves as a writer and project coordinator at University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio within the Center for Research to Advance Community Health (ReACH). Her creative work spans fiction, nonfiction, and comics, but clearly does not include enough drawings of spaceships.