Twenty Years

The hovercraft loomed,
A silent sentinel watching
Over me and my little ones,
Waiting to take us
To a new home,

A new life.
Away from our dying planet,
Where the rising seas
Have washed away the cities,
Drowning all life, and humanity.

The promise was
A blue-green planet
Twenty light years away.
The caveat, we had to
Leave our old behind.

I held my mother's hand,
Wrinkled and dry, now
Damp with tears
Free-falling from her face.
And Papa

Standing beside her,
Our rock, full of emotion
He would never show
But a glisten in his eyes,
A trick of the light.

She grazed my cheek
With the soft back of her hand,
Like she did when I was little.
Dear girl, we are eighty.
We have lived.

Even if we could go,
We would not live to see
The new world. It would be
Twenty years in a ship.
Death on a ship.

I grew desperate, tears
Blinding. I grasped her hand
Tighter. We could stay.
The planet is a pipe dream.
We might not breathe.

Here, we can fish,
Live in the mountains.
We can find a way.
I would rather twenty years
Here with you

Than eternity in a metal box
Full of empty promises.
Papa's hand fell gently
On my shoulder. Child,
He said. You must think

Of them. His eyes turned
To my children, both
Bright eyed and happy,
Dancing around their
Grandparents, oblivious

To the agony we felt.
I held his eyes, and saw
Conflict and sadness
And a determination
To do what was right.

As did I.

I nodded to the pilot
Who saluted and left.
I embraced my mother
And father, and held
My children tight.

Together we watched
The hovercraft depart.
Mama said, now we
Have twenty years

No, I said.
We have forever.