Can you believe there is a man out there singing
“in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia,”
his only audience the wrecked cruisers that litter this sector,
(The Gorb are finished, though, they say).
Xong told me that on Earth they are using steel again
for spacecraft, so difficult is it now to get krenon.
Xi Lu jokes that next time he’s in Alpha Centauri
and feels the shift and pop of warp drive
he won’t reach for the alarm, just shout “The noodle man
is here!” The Chinese amongst us laugh at this
and we all forget, for a moment, to be afraid.
Up here amidst the stars, bravery is outdated, Earthly.
Maybe. Maybe not. But I have seen troopers,
with the lizard hordes advancing, fasten their suits
as if against nothing more than a chill breeze on Venus
whilst out for a stroll to drink kursh aside the klagons.
This morning a few of us went for an adventure in the jarg.
Red mountains soared above us; the yelang hooted
their yearning cries. And, for a moment, I was home again;
home on my veranda, looking out onto the Amazon woods.
It reminded me somehow of the peaceful day
we took over from the Sonorans in C sector.
Millions had been killed, whole planets burnt, but all I remember
was the purple opalescence of X1, a floating jewel against the black.
A strange fate to be here, fighting a war no one understands
or has any idea who is winning, to know you will die entirely forgotten
by a home that no longer exists. Xavier says this to me
and I laugh so hard I think I will fuse my circuits.