The Starship: VII



by Sarah Blake. Illustration by Holly Burdorff.

You can’t believe how different
the planet feels from the ship.
The dips and mounds, the give
beneath your feet. And air
that moves. Your hair moving.
And sunlight. You love that
the word is the same. You love
how it feels on your skin even if
it’s colder out than you’ve felt
in years. You get goosebumps.


You’re directed to a tent with Earth
written on it. Inside it’s filled
with paraphernalia. It’s heartwarming,
and cruel too. You go up to someone
behind a table with a calendar on it.
Do you look human for our benefit?
Do you think we’d freak out
if we saw you? He laughs. No,
he says. We’re humans.


You learn they’re humans from the future.
The starship breaks time and space
and they sort of choose where to come
back into it. They are time travelers.
Which means they could take you back.
You don’t think of that immediately
but you think of it.


Walking around you notice people here
speak a dialect of English. They’ve learned
the old dialect to help you. They have so
many people speaking so many languages,
you have to leave the tent. It’s too much.
You go and lie under a big plant. It’s green
because as long as there’s a sun
photosynthesis makes sense. It’s a smart,
simple evolution. And that calms you.


Your neighbor finds you under the plant, but
he might not be your neighbor anymore.
You hold hands. He’s been asking questions
too, and he’s found out this is the second
planet they inhabited after Earth. They picked
it for size and atmosphere and water and
the energy and lifespan of this universe.


They explain that we can live longer
if we want. Their medical advances
are significant. They explain that crime
is not tolerated, and that racism, sexism,
and other prejudices are criminal. They
will provide therapy to anyone who
recognizes they need help to adjust.
And it is hard to believe. All of it.


They have built us apartments, similar
to the ship, while we figure out how
we fit in here. What job. What classes.
What openings. Where. And then
a new place to live. A yard again.

The apartments would be too similar
to the ship if not for the windows.
Even so, your first time looking out,
you think, Mirage.

“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:

Holly Burdorff is an MFA candidate in creative writing at the University of Alabama. Her work appears in recent or forthcoming issues of Tinderbox Poetry JournalDialogistPear DropOstrich Review and Handsome.