The Starship: III



by Sarah Blake. Illustrations by Goodloe Byron.

Soon enough people are going on TV to announce
their decisions to travel on the ship,
or at least to live there, to wait. Scientists mostly.
The governments are setting up online systems
to sign up, keep track. You have to say your
profession. You have to pay $200. At first some
countries are nervous they will lose
all their scientists, but people are different enough.


The plane you take up is like every other plane ride.
A baby is crying. Some people that know each other
are chatting. Some strangers are introducing
themselves. Many people are drinking, or were
at the airport bar. You were encouraged to pack light.
You have a photo of you and your husband
at the Grand Canyon. You have a necklace
from your mother. You have a lot of SweetTarts
and dark chocolates. Your husband said if people
found out they might kill you for them
farther into the trip, when they miss Earth.


Your neighbor took an earlier flight
and he’s there to greet you.
He’s so excited to tell you about
everything. He takes you to the room
he’s saved for you, beside his, and
makes a joke about being neighbors
everywhere. His enthusiasm is the first
thing that’s made you doubt yourself.


First you notice how small the beds are.
You’ve been sharing a bed with a man
for years. This will be the biggest change
for you, but you get it. It’s as if the aliens
are saying, We’re happy to have you
but this isn’t a good time to get pregnant.
And you wonder about the medicine
on board. You wonder if doctors volunteered
to come on the ship. You wonder
if you’re of any use at all.


The ship stays still for months. Some
people change their minds and return
home. Some people come up to her
for vacations. Your husband visits.
He brings more chocolates. You have
protected sex on the small bed.
He likes your room, notes the picture
you’ve hung, notes the lack of color,
can’t seem to stop running his mouth.


You tap the trim and it turns purple,
tap it again, yellow. Various parts
of the room respond. You just haven’t
decided what to do yet. He’s being
snide when he says decisions
aren’t usually a problem for you.


Just come back, he says. What
do you even do all day? Aren’t you
getting depressed. But you aren’t.
There’s a lot to explore. And you’ve
been reading. And mothers need help
with their children. The people
on board are thinking of setting up
jobs with mentors to teach them—
nurses, police officers, teachers.
You think you’ll be a police officer.
You think you’d like to do some good.


What does that even mean? Are there
laws? Are there guns? Are there trials?
You say you’d patrol. You’d help
whomever needs help. More like
a neighborhood watch than police. But
there are a set of rooms they’ve found
that can’t be opened from the inside
just in case.

“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:

Goodloe Byron is a bookist, songist, drawist and paintist.  He learned how to draw by making book covers for such luminaries as Soft Skull Press, NYU Press, Black Mask and Random House. Much of his youthful energy was lost in a drawn out book adventure in which he left thousands of novels across the world. Since then he has made his home over top of a guitar shop in Frederick, Maryland. Having illustrated for many years, he took up proper painting after a freak mural incident in 2011.