To honour the Year of Perfected Vision, in 2020

the PDK-4 Corporation signed up its first

Hibernation Astronaut for the missile, ‘After life’,

launching its Perpetual World Campaign:

‘Preserving Our Most Beautiful Offspring for the New Life on Titan…’


They chose my child. I visit him

daily in the tiled room. His naked skin

looks backed with ice. I see his heart

beat hourly on the screen. He is safe,

I know, for his will be an innocent world,

conquered in peace.

                        He does not breathe

more than once a heartbeat. My own

small breaths haunt the cold when I speak

into the audiofile they have contracted to play

across his light years on repeat. ‘Don’t be afraid,’

I say. ‘Like a handshake, palm to palm,

                        a gentleman’s agreement,

your heartbeat tenders you –  Are you cold?

Listen, out of these bypassed years,

silence in your mouth, you will amass such –

Only to think of you, falling from your name for sky

in this astonishing vessel!

Press release, my darling,

and do not sorrow. Do not once sorrow.

If you will think of me, think only of these years

I held your unfailing present in my empty hands.’



In truth, the history of space travel

is a history of rooms

                        – I kept a room

those eleven years in the Hotel Hyperion.

It had been a prison, the first in orbit,

and its guest rooms kept the old locks.

The Futures Museum was paying me for artefacts

from the failed outposts of settlement.

– Those years, voyaging

to the forsaken places, I slept

more than I woke, never shaking off

the after-weight of anaesthetic sleep

before I slept again – places that held then

in my mind like so many self-lit dreams

but for the relics I brought back

– I used to time my waking

for the radio line where their abandoned

voices first shaped words in static

the way a figure wades out of mirage

dripping with light– Whispers, pleas,

accusations, prayers: voices in their afterlife

talking me out of sleep …



Routine search, Kuiper Peninsula.

This blank of Titan where the wind is

visible, anodised with cold –

                        I don’t hear it.

I am closed in my life, my machine-

fed breath, a true ghost haunting

the loneliest idea –

                        walking out

from the settlement’s small world  

of manufactured atmosphere. Strange to see

and not to feel the cold –

                        this ice-waste eating

rifts into itself, fitted to the screen

as if to say ‘I have walked through mirrors,

shrinking to scale

                        self-lit worlds’–

Then to come on the wreck, its landing chute

ice-caught, flaring, torn throat of the wind’s cry up-

flung tirelessly

out of itself –

and like pure fiction the ship, propped in debris –

years lost to a trick of light – the door sealed in ice

it will take days to clear –

That instant I see them

in my mind as they will be found, unwaking,

stored in the machinery of patience,

in their Perspex coffers

blindly face to face and nothing decayed –

Only, on their ice-backed skin

this filigree of ice  

the machine is breathing them, resembling

the mechanism of a clock copied in snow.