Raye Hendrix

ELEGY FOR A SPACECRAFT

Cassini           you cosmic firefly

          you vacuum-empty           space bowl

 

manufactured metal comet

          Saturn’s brief           demystifying moon:

 

I suppose even robots

          have a time to die           but if

 

you’ve got to go           (and you do

           I’m sorry, you do)           at least

 

you’re going beautifully:

          jet-propulsion           burnout

 

gravity slung arc into           oblivion

          probably           (I’m sorry) we won’t

 

come to collect           your body

          probably there won’t be           a body

 

left to collect           you

          returned to stardust           vaporized

 

before the atmosphere gives out           but

         that’s alright           isn’t it?

 

after all           we’ve catalogued

          your memories:           geyser moons

 

hula-hooping sixth planet

          from the sun           and somewhere

 

even us on the black non-horizon

          of void:           a speck of light

 

a blue-pinprick yesterday

          calling your name

 

from Poets Respond
September 19, 2017

__________

Raye Hendrix: “I never thought I could feel sad for a robot (I honestly dislike them as a general rule—especially if they have faces), and then I read about the impending destruction of the Cassini space craft early Friday morning. There was something so human in the article I read: the author called it a ‘suicide,’ and it got me thinking about the nature of people, and what it really means to be human. Here’s this spacecraft, barely younger than I am, and it’s seen things I never will—except I will, because it shared them with me. Even as it plummets to its death in Saturn’s atmosphere, it’s beaming back images, ‘clearing its memory,’ as the article put it. And isn’t that so beautiful? Isn’t that so human? Don’t we all try to pass on stories, memories, to the people who will be left behind when we’re gone? For the first time in my memory, my heart broke for a robot. A poem seemed a good way to say thank you.”