Dane Slutzky: My Battery is Low and It’s Getting Dark

  For Opportunity, The Mars Rover 2004-2019

No human programmed
you to be poetic.
You didn’t craft

a sentence, but
sent data, after a
delay via satellite,

in an ontological
low. Tau level: rising.

One last grainy
half-complete photo
of the sky, stars streaked

with lines. We offer
animal experience: hormones,
lactic acid, sorrow.                            

Ancient channels
            now dirt divots.

Newly hatched
                                    from a rocket
            your petals fell open to a shine of
gold and brass, you, shaking out your wings,

opened your beady lenses
            (for you to see)
and wide eyes
                                    (for us to see)
            stuck from your stalky neck.

You turned on and there, in the crater wall,
            exposed bedrock, layered—
                                    formed in water! Once:
                                                salty, acidic,
Into the heart
                                    of Perseverance
Valley, Endeavor
       Crater, their names
                        a form of blessing, ours,
you surfed
            wind-blown dunes

a bleak horizon. Here a flow so
long dead
            we only saw its smoothed stones, eroded gullies.
                                                                        We imagined

dust wiped with fresh rain.

called you little miss
perfect. An overachiever.

Your battery ran
low. It grew dark on Mars.
Our eyes are sweating.

I’m not crying, you’re
crying. We made memes
of cartoon-

robot faces. We imagined
a someday when humans
lived on Mars.

The photographs:
            a comet
                        before Martian dawn
            a dust devil, that vortex
of dirt and air,
            the backward glance
            to your tracks,
into the stark