Sophia White

Rookie ('90 / America)

Dream-Trip to Mars


Mars.
Strange red rust world
Permeated with a scarlet haze
Red dust settled on the rooftops of shabby houses
Of trailers and outdated campers
Red dust filming the treeless, empty street
Oh, oh, moans the wind as it blows down the road.
Hot. It is stiflingly hot here. Hot air pressing against me.
I leave my little ship, its silver body bathed red in the sun
Its three fragile legs bent outward beneath the pressure.
Down the street, in the moaning wind, I go,
Passing rusted trailers, outdated campers,
All still – the wind does not leave the road.
No windchimes tinkling – no mowers purring –
No sound at all, except for the dogs barking.
Where are they? Where are the dogs?
No trees to hide behind. No bush or grass.
Only red, red dirt, hard-packed and dusty.
Only rusted houses straining against the heavy heat.
At last, a double-wide with its door open.
The door does not move, but sits, filmed over with red dust.
Up two cement blocks and I am inside.

Life.
Three dogs, a shepherd, a beagle, a bulldog.
They leap out from behind the door, growling, menacing.
No collars on these dogs. Only tangled, matted fur,
Fur like Grendel. They are all teeth and nails, and hot red eyes.
Their eyes. Not rabid – worse. Hard, shiny scarlet eyes
Full of hot anger, shining with malice.
Growls and snarls rolling through the hot air at me.
Away, dogs, away. The sweeping hand, and they bark wildly.
Stillness, and they growl again. Step forward, and they attack.
Run, run past the dogs, through a kitchen layered in red dust,
And rust on the pots in the sink. Rust on the walls, the table.
Strange red rust world.

Humans.
Three: a man, a woman, a teenage girl. Frozen on the couch,
Frozen in the oppressive, crushing heat.
Frozen, and filmed over with red dust.
Red dust lacing their eyelashes, their lips.
Scarlet dust matting their hair, clothes,
And crimson dust caked under their nails.
Dead? No. Their eyes move.
Their blue eyes, so chill in the red heat.
Pupils roll towards me, shock vibrates the lines,
The delicate lines in their ice-blue irises.
These people don’t move. They are huddled together
In a little triangle of ice-blue fear they cling.
Arms crossed on their chests, legs drawn beneath them.
Head to shoulder they cower on the couch,
Beneath the fine red dust, beneath the heavy red heat.
On the floor lie more dogs. Mastiff, dachshund, poodle,
Another bulldog. Coats matted with red dust,
Eyes slitted, and red fire in the slits.
The dogs lie in a semicircle, watching the people,
The blue-eyed people.
Watching – guarding – holding captive.
Here are dogs for men, and men for dogs.

Help.
The people do not speak, do not move.
They watch me with those eyes blue.
They speak with their tiny pupils,
Their wide irises tinged with ice and fear.
Help, but no hope. Help without belief.
I want to help these people,
I do. But how?
How to help in this rusty red world?
Here come the dogs, the door-dogs.
Snarls and yelps slither around the wall, to me.
Hide? Run?
I leap onto the couch, I freeze. Head on shoulder
Shoulder of the teenage girl.
Do dogs see in color? I cannot remember –
Earth is so far away.
Can they see that I am not filmed in dust?
That my eyes are green – not blue?
Here they are, and they study.
One, two, three, four humans on the couch.
Strange world!
I am covered in red, red, red, red dust!

Submitted: Thursday, April 17, 2008

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