we stole death
by Jona L. Pedersen
(This poem is best viewed on a PC)
I built a space shuttle and named it the Whale.
in zero gravity I won’t have to walk on knives
like the little mermaid when she
became human, or like the time
we stole death from the badlands
back when we were human, too.
when I board the Whale, I remember
us all in the prairie, sheltered under drilling
rigs, their arms bowing like giraffes
drinking from mirages. we stood in murmured
oxygen fumes of white sage. and I remember
how we enshrined dragonfly kings
on the riverbank, after love
went extinct and it gave birth
to something else.
at last, we breathe
and for a moment
magpies took me home—
after all, magpies take
most things which glimmer, and lately
I haven’t looked back. on the run
across the milky way, I learn to navigate
by stars instead of turkey and deer.
I land the Whale at a jupiter rest stop
looking for somewhere to scream
like we used to in the carwash—
nonetheless, there is no sound in space,
no water on jupiter. swept away by
the great dragonfly migration, I reach
into pools of hydrogen gas for
all the things that were lost
in the long cosmic hum of shuttle fleets.
when I feel a cold, smooth touch
in my palm, I wonder if
I could be returning something
instead of losing it.
I finally look back.
instead of magpies
the trail of stars is still there,
the stars are still there,
the stars are still.
Jona L. Pedersen is a recent graduate from the University of North Dakota, with a B.A. in English and B.Sc. in Fisheries & Wildlife Biology. With one foot in the arts and one in the sciences, their interest in biology often seeps into their writing. Their work appears in North Dakota Quarterly, The Allegheny Review, Roi Fainéant Press, and others. Find them on Twitter (@JonaLPedersen) or their website (jonalpedersen.com).