Venus, As It Might Have Been

by Mary Soon Lee

I am ready to fly without coming back.
—Valentina Tereshkova, Pravda

July 22, 1972,
Valentina plummeted to Venus,
plunged through its poisonous vapors,
petrified, elated, alone.

Splashed down into the ocean,
eight years after Venera 2
had reported the rocking motion
when it descended into waves.

Afloat in her tiny pressurized vessel,
Valentina unfurled the Soviet pennant,
snapped the photo of the smile
that would supplant the Mona Lisa.

For three weeks she sailed
the sparkling seltzer seas,
studied the tentacled creatures
that swept past her windows.

Anguish, yes, when the air ran out.
But worth it to have gone first,
to have stepped toward the stars.
No last words. No final photo

Copyright © 2018 by Mary Soon Lee


Featured Poet of the Month  D. A. Xiaolin Spires

D.A. Xiaolin Spires counts stars and sand, currently residing in HawaiĘ»i. You can find her scouring lawns and beaches for fallen plumeria blossoms, boarding research vessels and shooing away vog. Thanks to the meme-like contagion of a sibling’s composed earworm, she can sing the Periodic Table of Elements up to at least Atomic Number 18 (Argon), sometimes further, before needing to consult the chart. Spires’ work appears or is forthcoming in various publications such as Analog, ClarkesworldFireside, Grievous Angel, Retro Future, Reckoning, LONTAR, Andromeda Spaceways, Gathering Storm Magazine, Liminality, Eye to the Telescope, Star*Line and Story Seed Vault; as well as anthologies of the strange and delightful, such as Sharp & Sugar Tooth, Broad Knowledge and Ride the Star Wind. She can be found on her website daxiaolinspires.wordpress.com or on Twitter: @spireswriter.

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