Another planet grows and shrinks away,
the heliosphere an ebbing memory,
you streaking like a wayward gamma ray.
Around your vessel blooms a potpourri
of comet, nebula, dark energy
rushing you through the void, accelerating,
all you’ve ever cared for quickly fading.
What road is lonelier than the universe?
For decades one could sail and never stumble
across another soul. Things could be worse.
Distracted, you could accidentally bumble
too close to a cosmic gullet and wildly tumble,
yet really no more lost than where you coast
past eagle, spider, witch-head, horsehead, ghost.
Though wandering through space entails great risk,
you have no choice — the sun’s begun to swell.
While moving at velocities as brisk
as jets of interstellar wind, you smell
the rabbitbrush, the desert breezes, dwell
on sounds of soughing yucca palms and creeks,
glimpse bighorn bounding boulders, rusty streaks
of sunsets. As you near the edge of space,
you think of the stone tools your forebears used
while breathing mayfly lives, a vanished race
in tune with wilderness; and, though you’ve cruised
for torrents of time now down this road suffused
with radiation, your single mutant eye
still sees, not stars, but fireflies in July.
Note: The title alludes to Highway 50, The Loneliest Road in America.
Martin Elster (not pictured) lives in West Hartford, CT. His poems have appeared in journals including The Centrifugal Eye, The Flea, Mindflights, The Speculative Edge, Thema, Victorian Violet Press, and in the anthologies Taking Turns: Sonnets from Eratosphere and New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan. His poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Poetry Award.