Stone Telling

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by Brianna Belle Sulzener

Things I don't understand:
The critical reception of Battlestar Galactica.
And for that matter, all

Astronauts — save gallant Juan Salazar.
Born in New Mexico and
Married to his best friend's sister,
Juan went to NASA, goddamnit, and
Was ready for Space, that miracle.

I heard he wasn't the same
When he got back.
He said there's nothing out there.
His wife didn't understand.
Of course there's not, she said, but remember Mars?
Remember stars
That weren't so far away and he said
They're rocks,
They're nothing.
She said of course they're rocks,
Rocks aren't nothing,
They're rocks.
They're the grand canyon and
Watermelon-tourmaline and
Buildings with magnificent rooms that hold so much,
Like this one does,
And he went quiet.
He said there's nothing out there.

So she's leaving, she's getting out of the Southwest and
Headed somewhere green, on Earth.

I don't understand Magdalena Salazar.
She's pretty and she had it good and
She never gets sunburnt and now I hear
She's gone. What was she expecting?
Did she think he would come back with souvenirs—
Moon dust or dehydrated avocado peels or
The shattered skulls of alien enemies?
No one goes somewhere like that
Without leaving something behind,
No one, not even a big man like Juan Salazar.

See, him I do understand — that charmer,
That rogue, that astronaut.
I'll even admit that for a minute there in season three,
Battlestar Galactica was doing some provocative shit.
But not Magdalena.
She should have known about black holes.

I hear she's happy out there in the East,
And she hardly ever thinks of her ex-husband
On that dusty orange planet.
When she moved into her new apartment,
Unpacked the blue dishes and
Opened the windows she thought,
There's nothing here, and
Started making supper.

Brianna Belle Sulzener currently makes her home in Iowa City, where she's finishing up a degree in creative writing. Although she lives in the snow, she misses the sea. She's not ready to close the book on mermaids quite yet—there are, after all, some parts of the ocean floor still unexplored. Her fiction is forthcoming in Identity Theory.

Read Brianna's discussion of this poem over at the Roundtable!

Photography: The Shuttle Rips Space/Time at the End of an Era by Trey Ratcliff.