Singing in Space

Earth has been dead for a century, and all humans with it. Or so we believe. All that is left of the final expedition is our colony of souls on Mars.  Only mouths are we.

Who sings the distant heart which safely exists in the centre of all things? That is the question we ask ourselves when we intercept a random radio message from the distant remains of Earth, a naked rock spinning in space, reflecting the sun like its twin, the moon. The language is familiar. The song is too: ‘It’s a God-awful small affair to the girl with the mousy hair…’  The voice is melodic but wavering across the expanse of space, a shock to the system when we hear the refrain: ‘Is there life on Mars?’

We transmit a reply, repeating it continuously. But they are the last words we hear.

Kim M. Russell, 10th May 2021

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Prosery: Here’s the thing about existing

Sanaa is this week’s host for Prosery, when we write very short prose that tells a story, with a beginning, a middle and an end, in any genre of our choice, with a limit of 144 words. The special thing about Prosery is that we are given a complete line from a poem, which must be included somewhere in our stories; we may change punctuation but are not allowed to insert words in between parts of the quotation.

Like Sanaa, I have long been in love with the works of Rainer Maria Rilke. The line we are using in our prose is from a translation of his poem ‘Heartbeat’:

“Only mouths are we. Who sings the distant heart which safely exists in the centre of all things?”

53 thoughts on “Singing in Space

  1. This is gorgeously encapsulated, Kim 😀 I love the backdrop of “the final expedition,” and the radio message, the way you have interlaced the line from Rilke with shades of dystopia is seamless. Thank you so much for writing to the prompt! 💝💝

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love the idea of Bowie’s voice singing out across space after all but a few Martian colonists have gone. There is an appropriate haunting quality to his voice, and the real question becomes ‘Is there life on Earth?’

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love this, and it reminds me of one of my favorite poetic piece of writing in Swedish, Aniara written by Harry Martinsson… it is an epic poem, a complete novel actually about a space ship that get lost and thrown out in space… and yes very much the same in Bowie.

    Aniara has been translated to English but it’s very hard to get by, it’s also a film and an opera…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is such an amazing take on the prompt. The use of Bowie’s lyrics as a radio signal is beautifully done, is it just a curio from the dead planet, or is someone down there playing Bowie? But we never know. Thank you for the read

    Liked by 2 people

  5. There were records put into Voyager, and this could have misinterpreted as from dead Earth. Major Tom also comes to mind. A very creative and clever take on the prompt. Rilke was difficult to drop into prose; you succeeded well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Glenn. Rilke was the trickiest Prose prompt so far, but I think Bowie would have appreciated being associated with him. I was thinking along the lines of ‘radio ghosts’, the ones we used to pick up on old radios.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey girrrlllll!!!! I know you! This is amazing. The desperate feel of space snd the pungent odor of the apocalypse. You used the Rilke line perfectly!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. a shock to the system when we hear the refrain:
    ‘Is there life on Mars?’

    Getting the two, Rilke & Bowie, together is a smart move. And we come to the ever mystifying question
    …is there? Good question Kim!

    Hank

    Liked by 2 people

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