The Spaced Land (2)

Stephen Livesey Ashworth

Second Vision

– Flying hopefully – at colossal speed
– Space above my head – and beneath my feet,
Ringed by the far-distant – Milky Way,
I just hope my map doesn’t lead me astray.
– Now a double star – I investigate
– Kindly yellow sun – and a red-bearded
Dwarf of a mate that circles afar:
Surely an earth-world can find shelter here?
– So I turn my course down to the fireside
– Sensing temperature – fingers trembling,
My stomach feels empty, I try to relax
– Blink my eyes and lick my dry lips,
Shield my sight from the radiant blaze
Of the sun, as I scan the star-spangled black.
– If a planet is here I’ll detect
First her orbital motion and – then I’ll zero in
– Analyse every mark on her face:
Will she be beautiful, homely and comfortable
– Perfect partner rotating in space?
Or have I chased me a bug-ugly harridan,
Harried an ugly-bug-free chaste maiden?
– Or a Venus of dazzling white,
Under whose bridal silk simmers a hungry
Vagina of death, a jagged rock garden,
A steaming laboratory of – vivisection
– Boiling lava lakes – acid breath?
– Better hope to locate such a planet whose
Heavenly address more truly reflects a
Celestial nature where angels can rest:
Somewhere a river leads to a town,
Whose towers and turrets challenge the sky,
A jostle of people, a market where you can buy
Everything under the sun, a babel of tongues,
A dusky girl singing a plaintive lament.
And I try to sense echoes of what I have lost:
Faint memories murmur of lives from the past,
Or do they now whisper of lives yet to be?
Horsemen thundering over the beach,
The flash of a sword, a cry of despair,
A severed hand caterpaulting out of reach,
And evening brings heavy mists bloody with crime,
A body that writhes and twists in the air
– Staring eyes, the flesh-scorching flame ...
– Well at least I can – in a cruel Xanadu
Quickly seek out the glistening pleasure-dome
– Snuggle up to a transient crush
With a peachy-skinned, long-legged courtesan who
Will not care when their name suffers shameful abuse.
– Or I hope to find refuge of sorts
In the chase and the fall of the dice or the ball
– Lose my fear in the rush of the sport,
Uncork a beer or two, shut out the pain,
Tell myself I’ve arrived home.
– Now I scrabble through – constellations,
Tracing out random geometry lessons
Nailed to the backcloth of the school of creation
– And I pick out a blossoming star
That unfolds to a globe, to an ocean of air,
Bathing chocolate continents, rivers of wine,
And all at a succulent temperature.
– Now I dive into feathery pillows of
Gentle resistance to my headlong flight
– And I gulp in the pine-scented oxygen
– Glow all over with exhilaration.
White are the snowy caps, blue is the sky,
Emerald forests recline at my feet,
Ocean waves flash yellow sunshine by day,
Lakes twinkle red dwarf starshine by night.
– But I pause at the – water’s edge and I
– Run my eyes round the – meadowed mountain ring:
– What could cause in a not very distant age
– Such a circular – steep surrounding?
– And the ruddy star, king of the midnight hour,
Glows with a cruel subterranean fire.
– Here a furry hop – in the waving grass
– There a squirrelish tree-top flurry
– And a slither through stones and through shingle.
Mournful the call of an eagle-eyed sentinel
Riding on thermals high over the crags,
Spread out before it, the tale of the world
Is measured in half-hidden – crater arcs.
The mouse-catcher sees, but without understanding
The footprint – of a terrible past.
– It knows only the seasons for hunting
And mating and nest-building – how could anything
Be more important than those?
Springtime warms the air,
When the dark sky brightens blue,
Living shoots appear.
        Frozen for so long,
        Then the ice begins to melt,
        Water-trickle song.
Summer sun is kind,
Love creation, children play,
Cherry-blossom land.
        Grow and fight for fame,
        Summer lasts a million years,
        Please let there be time.
Autumn sudden fall,
Red star brightness, glowing cloud,
Mountain-hail storm.
        Blasting crater shock,
        Dust and fire slaughter fear,
        Burning forest wreck.
Silent lightless days,
Black sky frost kills every hope,
Wither, starve and freeze.
        Sunray pierces ink,
        Feebly parts the ghastly shrouds:
        Everything ... extinct.
And the fatal star
Draws back to the outer realm,
Springtime warms the air again,
But how many more?
– Now once more I see – star of nemesis
– Growing brighter with – every summer’s eve
– And with every dawn life’s vital business is
Mocked by the advancing asteroid hailstorm.
– Twitching noses and little round eyes
Query the crimson lamp in the sky.
What can they surmise of this periastron?
– Who can warn them? and where can they run?
– And anyway – what would be the use?
– Now I take my leave – of this danger zone
– I don’t wish to see bloodlines deleted
– For the hundredth time – world catastrophe
– Only hope that some spore or bacterium
– Will survive the next – conflagration
Of autumn’s inevitable armageddon
– Will out-live the bleak – cosmic winter-time
– Start anew in some far-future blossoming
– Raise a family – evolutionary,
Forced to engender a race of survivors,
Race to survive a forest of gene-benders
– Before all too soon – new extinction looms
– Maybe this time for ever.

Third Vision

Back to the Start