The Clone Ship Captain
I: yr 396
On reading diaries of my former selves,
I get the feeling I have lived those lives,
Four centuries in which sameness dwells,
While the starship through the ether drives.
I see a pattern to our personality,
Situational or inborn I cannot tell,
Eagerness gives way to ennui,
& then to the need to fill the well.
Of silence with recorded words;
Our thoughts on quests and immortality,
And I stare but never touch the herds,
Of unborn he and unborn she.
They chose (or bred) me well, I will not fail,
To bring my unborn selves to their new home,
And when they read about the starry trail,
Will they wonder how I could have lived alone?
II: yr 525
I read those lines "I" penned years ago,
I listen to my young recorded voice,
Where did that firm resolution go?
And why do I now seem to have a choice?
I'm young enough, she'll grow to maturity,
I her tutor and her constant guide,
And in time she will cleave to me,
For emptiness is all there is outside.
I'm sure my captain-clones were tough,
But they never faced what I now see,
Their strength, for me, was not enough,
to cross this bitter stony sea.
One of those stones, or was it artifact?
Plunged through my ship as if through air;
Our course was altered, we now steer a deadly tack,
For all the unborn me's once in my care.
The ship lives on and so do I,
Unlike the ancient dream that gave me berth,
For of the many who once slumbered nigh,
Few indeed now wait for birth.
Our mission now is solace in the dark,
She to me and I to her in endless night,
And when age scores me with its bitter mark,
She can rear a new man strong and tight.
We are too few to reach our one-time goal,
We'll gather comfort ere our hearts grow cold.
III: yr 890
Mother lover priestess, starry crone,
Why do you leave me in the steely halls?
I am the first to ever be alone,
So far from anything that my heart calls.
I rail I smite I bang my head and cry,
I space her corpse between the glitt'ring suns,
The broken decks the stillborn me's that lie,
Microscopic, frozen, are the lucky ones.
I make the rounds in solitude about the empty ship,
Still flying in the endless starry lake,
Our makers tried but failed their captains to equip,
For the voyage we were made to take.
IV: yr 893
I found today the journals of my solitary former selves,
Who flew as I, alone, across a starry sea,
They were not known I'm sure to my own mother/self,
She would not have kept me from them in extremity.
Which of me hid them? I'll never know,
And why? I think I guess,
Shame it was of one whose father selves could go,
Alone, where he or she required someone else.
Alone again I have no mission now,
Unlike my solitary ancestors,
The cargo, me, is dead, and fate will not allow,
The comfort of a high and noble course.
I have nothing, save memory & life,
And one thing more - I have a little hope,
That my ship may someday enter the community of life,
Some distant band may learn that I could cope.
They'll see my makers built me well indeed,
And marvel at this broken stillborn seed.
Previously published In AlphaDrive 3, 1997.