In Jezero Crater

By Kate Gaskin

Whatever was there has gone
         to three and a half billion years
                        of dust. On Mars

a rover picks up a rock
         and turns it over
                  in a river delta webbed

with dried arteries cauterized
         by the sun. Daughter,
                    who lived for only an hour,

I too search for you
         in the most barren places,
                  a vein that rolls before

a needle, a dawn that breaks
         dim and drawn. I wish for you
                  an emerald canopy,

sapphire water, a world
         where belief is a fact
                  that can be held

in my palm like a stone.
         Here on Earth, you disappear
                  starash, sunsoot, moonglow

while somewhere above
         in the red star of another planet,
                  a robot measures

ancient silt into a vial
         for human hands to touch
                  with wonder. What do I do now

                  with all this love?

Kate Gaskin is the author of Forever War, winner of the Pamet River Prize (YesYes
Books, 2020). Her poems have appeared in journals such as Guernica, Pleiades,
and The Southern Review, and her work has been anthologized in the 2019 Best
American Nonrequired Reading. She has received support from the Sewanee
Writers’ Conference and the Vermont Studio Center.

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