Our Metaphors Are Still From Earth
The asteroid belt is a spiral-staircase
without a finished destination.
Between planets, our company is to
build the equivalent of an elevator
for future tourists to take
from floor two to floor three.
This satellite spins on black ice,
and everyone is bored.
That’s why we listen to him,
the new low-ranking techie,
good enough to be the new guy,
odd enough that he’s always
been the new guy somewhere.
“First starting out, I took pictures,
of the backs of eyes, looking for glaucoma.
And once a week, maybe more,
the patients, none of whom ever
saw their own eyes this way,
would look at each digital image
and say it looked like Mars,
in awe of the orange backdrop.”
“Then, somewhere down the road,
everyone’s eyes looked the same.
Everyone, the doctors said, already has glaucoma,
and my job was to find it,
and even other people’s blindness
was a clockwatching routine.”
He talks while staring out the window,
droning through our black aquarium.
“Before I signed up, I actually wondered
if Mars really looked like a retinal photo,
a sunny hue, a rotating yellow moon
in place of the optic nerve.”
“And, you know, this modern era,
it bores whole star systems, negotiates
with planets that they revolve
to even the most cheaply made watch.
We just passed mars a while back,
and I didn’t come over here to see it at all.”
Attempts to gaze into his eyes are futile,
for want of a hand brave enough
to move his visor, pressed tight against
his face, permanently creasing
the bridge of his nose, as if in a secret rage,
he became bored with his own eyes.