by R. J. Walker Miller
It had been simply ritual to watch the distant stars.
To watch and wonder,on what we had lost.
On what had brought us here.
We all watched nightly:
youthful and ancient,All came beneath the starlit vaults of the heavens and sang.
male and female,
hearty and infirm.
We sang of the voyage the young could not remember:
sang of the fear-fueled race through the stars,It was beautiful, perhaps, but there was no hope in it.
sang of the panic and dread,
sang of the aching hunger,
sang of the sickening throb of a creature cruelly hunted.
It was simply ritual.
We all knew that we would not be joined in our lonely exile.
The attacks had been too rapid,
too brutal and devastating,We remembered our world with nightmares in darkness and shudders in light:
too merciless and unexpected.
death and fire,We remembered the infernal, whispering screams of the Kines’ dark ships.
blackened craters and wasted fields,
cities of rubble and burned bodies stacked to the heavens in pathetic offering.
We remembered their angular vessels tearing down like rents in the starry cloak of God.
We knew we must have seen the last of that blazing Gehenna.
Midsummer would forever prove us wrong.
That star-rise, as always, we were gathered,
voices and tired eyes lifted upward into eternity’s vast shadowed seas.
As our voices in chant were raised, the sky awakened:
thunder rumbled in its depths,“Storm,” someone breathed.
light streaked the firmament in multicolored waves,
the distant stars seemed to swell and pulsate.
“They’ve found us,” another said.
Panic gripped us.
Fear parted and bent our group like storm winds through tall trees.
In the following terror, flames lapped and tore at the sky
For hours we waited in the dreadful, motionless hush:
in frozen fear,
in icy trepidation,
awaiting the worst.
Finally courage stirred us.
We went for weapons:
aged and tarnished guns,Armed, we entered the woods and searched the darkness.
nicked and battered knives,
rusting and sharpened kitchen utensils.
Slightly past the midnight hour we found the thing that had fallen:
a fire-darkened ship,A pillar of fiery embers rose into the sky
still steaming and glowing from its unbroken descent.
to guide us to its resting place
of burnt foliage and shattered earth.
In grim quiet we waited before it to kill the fiend within.
But, after dawn had come, no fiend exited the battered hull,
but instead a man:
old and tired,And he was human.
We rejoiced and rushed about him, yelling.
men,All were exhausted and starved, but all alive
like a reflection of our own past.
“You found us,” we cried. “But how?”
Copyright © 2009 by R. J. Walker Miller