Persephone

by Christina Sng


I lie by the fire,
Exhausted, heavy, staring
Up at the sullen red sky,

Our new home, a moon
200 light years from Earth.
It is as reluctant as us.

We name it Persephone,
In hopes that Spring
Will come, beneath

The dim amber Sun and
The dark-ringed planet
Persephone orbits around.

By the water, we build shelter,
Wooden constructs so comforting
After a lifetime encased in metal.

On the roofs, we line leaves
Cut from the flora, deep dark green
In the shape of a heart,

An understandable development,
Says our botanist, Jade,
Studying their massive size,

Each leaf having to work
So much harder to absorb rays
From their fading Sun.

But it will be a million years
Before it supernovas.
We can still build a home here.

Our lifetimes are not that long.
After all on Earth, humans
Only endured 200,000 years

Before destroying our planet
And vacating for greener pastures.
The damage is done.

Whether we survive
Also depends
On the fauna.

Our scans pick up
Heat signals from many areas
But cannot determine

Their sizes or threat levels.
With Persephone’s high gravity,
We estimate they won’t be giants,

Yet when the 100-foot serpent
Slithers out of the water,
We disperse,

Fleeing into the jungle,
Its stout flora making it easier
For us to spot predators.

We do not see the sinkholes
In the ground nor the massive
Sand octopus residing beneath.

Jack, our sensors guy, thought
Its massive body was a heat source.
It covers a tenth of the moon.

We lose half our force
To its relentless tentacles
By the time we reach higher ground,

The first hilltop
In a hundred miles
Only to realize

It is the domed shell
Of an enormous creature
In hibernation.

We live peacefully
Amid its benign flora,
Food and water plentiful

As the rain arrives
And we build shelter
With the mosses we gather

From its shell
Till the day it awakes,
Years later,

Violently shaking off
All parasites on its back,
Especially those who set fires.

We survive,
Fleeing to the swamps.
A poor choice.

The land is dead
And for good reason.
It is filled with quicksand.

We cross it quickly
Losing a tenth of us,
Reaching the other side,

An open savannah
Cut by an angry river
And a row of low brush clusters.

This will be our home
Till summer arrives,
Bringing the grazers

And the crawlers,
Both competing with us
For the succulent grass.

We promptly depart,
Following the river
To a waterfall,

Riding with gravity
Till the water runs out
At the tip of the desert,

Where Persephone’s
Darkest creatures live—
The skittering monsters

With razor-sharp pincers,
Spilling our blood
Across the rose-tinged sand.

The few of us
Who make it
Through the wasteland

Find ourselves parched,
Back at the lake
Where we first landed.

We have come full circle.
We have mapped the moon.
It is time to settle.

Tonight, I lie
Under the sullen red sky
By our space shuttle,

Sending a message
Back to our world,
Telling them we are alive.

We’ve learned to live
Here on Persephone,
Moving each season

To a more habitable zone,
For a time,
Living in harmony,

In rhythm with nature,
We’ve become a part of this moon.
Persephone has become our home.







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