Always Have A Back-up Planet
by Nancy Ames
"It is the end of life on this old Earth.
And the sun has been left far behind
since the day when the planet forgot
how to spin around its wobbling axis and
began to follow this long, curving vector
through the dazzling stars and asteroids.
It is always dark, black as midnight now,
and - except for a red and infrared glow
of flickering, feverish radiation along the
horizon - all our light is electric, from
the fountains of sparks that sporadically
illuminate the old charred, broken cities
and the scorched and empty land, and from
the lightning of the terrible, thundering
storms that always torment the skies and
the churning seas.
Everywhere, it smells like burning garbage
and there are only fading memories of the
once teeming human millions among these sad
people who have taken refuge inside some
makeshift bunkers in the subways and malls,
banks and casinos, schools and churches.
Hope, a frail phantom for so long, is now
finally extinct and, as all the world is
fast disintegrating around them, the people
have likewise become utterly speechless.
But then, with a deep, unreasoning instinct,
they all open their mouths and raise their
united voices in wordless song, in a glorious
music that is full of intricate rhythms and
harmonies... until even that is all too soon
dissolved in a loud, overwhelming blast of
The galaxy wheeled around again and again
in time and space, and one magic morning
untold numbers of children floated up out
of a serene purple ocean, wide-eyed, under
a clear golden sky on a new world.
The silver sands of the beaches sparkled as
they each took a deep breath and walked out
of the water, and then all of the children
opened their mouths and began to sing the
same wordless song, complete with all the
sublime old rhythms and harmonies.
But they soon realized that their music's
ending was blurred, almost as if somebody
had viciously scratch-scratch-scratched
at the edges of a computer-disc, and then
the children sensed that their people would
eventually have to design their own finales.
Solemnly, they began to wander up onto the
grassy magenta hills, following the streams
and rivers, and the babbling purple waters
taught them how to speak and laugh and cry.
Reaching up among the bright orange leaves
of the trees, their elongated fingers plucked
the first of the sweet-scented yellow fruits
and happily pushed them into their mouths.