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Clips of the Horizon On January 1, 2019 the New Horizons spacecraft executed a flyby of Kuiper Belt object (KBO), 2014 MU69 (Ultima Thule). 1. Ultima Thule: it’s a rock. No good for skipping. Not a Sagan cross placed to get us supposing perhaps Divinity willed the blink of arriving. No, just an oblong ruddy guitar case with swells wobbling its uneventful way down the Kuiper Belt. It’s hidden strings had no chance to strum or melt out notes resonant to the music of those spheres formed in Sol’s accreted halo. It’s only a spectator, contact-binary Eremite too cold to change one crater or pebble of its 20-mile extent since early exile from Let’s Make the Worlds. Just what the scientists ordered. 2. Thule: long held the place most remote as antiquities tell it. Further, even those adrenaline junkies could not think to go. Geographers now believe they didn't all manage to achieve a common shore or people describing blue skinned Picts then wolf or seal hooded Inuits dwelling half submerged in ice smoothed meter-thick over whale bone. Urged there by who knows what well-intentioned splurge of zeal or eye for profit, those first ones from Pytheas to Saint Brendan brought back tales of perpetual ice, diminished sun spans, and a certainty that there is more beyond those lands, a Georgic Ultima north of any Thule then extant. The name became a by-word meaning “unattainable,” till recently conferred upon an improbable KBO a billion miles beyond the pole of Pluto, New Horizons’ last place visited. Attainment was harder than even Virgil could imagine: bridging distance, cold, and airless void like an archangel errant of any motive other than a glimpse of Sol’s defunct planet-making brick-kiln. The accretion models seem pleased with the binary body found glued together like my first grade papier machete sculpture. With just more questions raised, it’s good for now to have made it here. DRAFT of first two sections © 2019 David W. Parsley Parsley Poetry Collection
THE BRIDGE AT TSAVO, 1898 "Descent approaching now," the guide had said perched familiar to the hunching train. Steam obscured valley and track, dead tangles glimpsed forming patterns like pain housed in the far-off smoke where toil channels extension of an awakened skein to bridge two worlds. Hours it has taken to join the work camp, passing walls of thorn in which the animals blink and turn, avoid confronting the mystery (as though war were not raised amongst them) harboring vague monitions surpassant the hunt only in horror: no such contest convenes for sentences bred of our inner coilings. "Lions," responds the guide when asked why many laborers have fled. "Theirs are not the eyes you see, though - they bide the night to stalk from uncompleted span. Last male branch of a disfigured pride, "they acquired their appetites from discarded men grafted to servitude. Human bones still mark points of stoppage for those caravans." He pauses staring at abandoned work benches and tents as the scenery slows then stops. "It is a wonder, these lions. Boma and bulwark "have not sufficed. No cleverness foretells the drop of paws among us, victim's retreating cries. Many think them devils. Sahib does not. "He calls it a dream, but I heard the lions outside my tent flap. They spoke as you or I would, breath hot upon my upturned face. I kept eyes "battened to dam betraying waters. 'Not death,' continued the one named Ghost. 'I look beyond this local contagion to futures of broader swath 'tabernacle to conveniences, adamantine bonds and confinement, vivisection, enjoined disease.' 'I will halt them,' said the Darkness. 'Hand 'and foot I bind individually, with joy seize and carry stammering prey along the banks of River Tsavo to the den of trial and feast 'where waves lap black as the air, stones dank, no insulting light to glimmer on their tears.' 'I, too, take them,' said the other, 'eagerly drink 'blood and marrow, reading skull, tooth, femur, if any you have not broken. And I tell you I have seen one who has come and will, father 'to orders eschewing battery cage and cell, stranger alike to feedlot and silent spring. His silhouette comes at sunset striding our hills 'where the sparrow flocks to outstretched arm and song.' More I do not recall." Heat clings to fade of light on the empty platform, lone lantern hissing in sudden quiet. Somebody's throat clears. "I say, where is that station master? Shouldnt one of us go and see?" The lantern creaks, gutters, sways. previously unpublished © 2014 David W. Parsley Parsley Poetry Collection