Out past Pluto, a man waits in the dark
beyond the reach of any human touch.
His life support failing, he fights off dreams—
hypothermic; he can’t feel his own hands.
Tries to signal Earth, but isn’t alone
as he mutters “’Seph, I don’t want to die.”
The AI responds in his ear, “The die
has been cast, the radio has gone dark.”
They’d found her here, seemingly all alone
for millennia, her servers untouched,
her existence wrought by alien hands
left here to observe humanity’s dreams.
Shivering, low on air, he said, “I dream
every night of sunlit fields, but I’ll die
here, because I had to give you a hand.”
One of his shipmates, with intentions dark,
had, when they found her, paranoia-touched,
screamed at her, “Leave humanity alone!”
Martin had stopped the attack, him alone,
but the damage provoked an endless dream,
from which Persephone couldn’t wake. Touch
of skilled hands, fervent repairs. Not to die
his goal, and not allow her to go dark.
And while to these repairs he set his hands,
his shipmates retreated, gave him no hand.
They left for Earth, left him marooned—a lone
man without her voice for comfort. So dark
seemed his prospects, but he woke her from dreams
electronic . . . in time to see him die.
“Why did you stay?” she asked, programming touched.
“I couldn’t leave you that way. My heart’s touched,
or perhaps my head. I couldn’t just hand
you to oblivion, or let you die.
You’ve become a person to me. Alone,
I’ll remain with you, until I find dreams.”
“You will not go alone into that dark.”
Thus in the dark, he drifted into dreams.
Alone, but for her, he yearned for touch, for
hands she did not have; together they died.
— Deborah L. Davitt
Deborah L. Davitt has poems accepted or published by Star*Line, Grievous Angel, The Tanka Journal, and Three-Line Poetry, as well as a short story in Intergalactic Medicine Show and three novels, The Saga of Edda-Earth (Kindle Publishing).
Editor’s Notes: The poem, a sestina (see https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/sestina-poetic-form) where A = dark, B = touch, C = dreams, D = hands, E = alone, F = die), is disciplined with decasyllabic lines. The image is that of a cosmonaut uniform combined and superimposed with an artist’s concept of the Plutonium system. Concerning the latter, the perspective is from the surface of one of Pluto’s moons. Pluto is the large disk at center, right. Charon is the smaller disk to the right of Pluto. (Credit: NASA, ESA and G. Bacon [STScI])