Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college. Over 500 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies, in the U.S. and abroad. She is a Best of the Net and twice a Pushcart nominee. The natural world of the American West is generally her framework; she also considers the narratives of people and places around her. She is a retired teacher living in Oregon.
Meanwhile on the edge of a mountain
in the middle of Gale Crater a solitary
human device crawls for five years
the only inhabitant, the last survivor
alone on a planet of debris-strewn
buttes, river-washed sediments under
a red sky. Lonely might not fit. Tread
marks appear on the dusty plain below.
There were two. They never spoke or
crossed paths. The planet is vast. But
one stopped working. The second one
is climbing now. Tire tracks disappear
on smooth rock. There are no voices
or echoes. The sound of electric motors
is lost in the thin atmosphere. It's a dead
world. The machine doesn't know that.
It climbs stone, stops to snap a photo
of the crater rim for distant humans.
From Somewhere Else
As her head fell farther into her collar, leathery neck
always wrapped in thick wool scarves, tremored hands
clutching the arms of her favorite wingback chair,
at the end she kept mumbling, I don't live on this planet
I don't live on this planet.
Where, we wondered, did she come from then,
but we never asked. She was too far gone already.
Had she floated down on gossamer sleeves
from a ship passing in an outer orbit,
a comet on a hyperbolic path never to return
and she fell like the Little Prince
onto a tiny planet among the elephants and foxes,
landing in a soft pile of leaves
that blew in her face and settled in her hair?
From there she stood, lived, then retired to this chair,
always waiting for the next body of dust and ice
to catch her raised hand, a white beacon.
Then she would tell us, see?not from here,
a temporary guest, a rainbow through rain
a spider web blowing, her frail body
a dusty tail searching among the planets.