Less than a light year
                                                                                     ahead, this atmosphere
                        swirls and thickens towards equilibrium,
the first conifers
                                                                        pricking the air, dawn
                                                a blue yonder, the robin’s egg.
This world that would not
                                                            move, this world that once looked
                     plain and red as sealing wax
covers its face
                                                                                                with grass, with a noise
                                                            like breath blown in a bottle.
Despite the warnings, I’ll step out
                                                            unhindered by tank or mask,
                             become too winded
                                                                          for words, or even listening.  I’ll wander
                                    through white blooms of greasewood,
collapse at the mountain’s foot.
            Our drifting, they say, is genetic
            in nature, a destiny hardwired
                        in our cells or the stars.
But on earth—as the story goes—
my kin called out for mercy,
            sheep down to skin and bone.
            Their planet had grown too warm
                        without passion.
                        Everyone had to make a choice.
We live, now, without
                                                            animals, don’t know how
            or what to confess. We only know one prayer:
make this sol a clear, high note,
make the dust devils weaken. Make my cells
            repair. Keep me
from ultraviolet arrows.
                                                                        Let the air I hold be sweet.
             Once, in place of the canary,
                        we sent out a trio of women:
                        a six-lung test, red flues open.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The younger two crossed
                                                            and lived, rushed back to tell
            the good news. And the old one,  
                                                                        they call her the miracle.
                                    They say she went out singing.