18 February 2021

We've landed on the planet named after the god of war and the power's
out all over Texas my mother's buried under her grandmother's
quilt while they're looking for signs of life on the surface of the long-dried lake-
bed my cousins huddling around the clay pot heaters they've rigged
from overturned geraniums and the candles they keep lit
for the dead the heatshield reaching extreme temperatures in the final moments
of descent ice-sleeved branches cleaving from their trunks and downing
communication lines and lines and lines down the block for what's left
of clean water in the ancient river delta the rover arriving to drill down
as scientists cheer in control towers oil men feast and fatten
their pockets craters across the desolate expanse early
transmission from the hazard avoidance camera can't help
but capture its own shadow darkening the foreground.


Copyright © 2021 by Deborah Paredez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 7, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“On February 18, 2021, NASA's Perseverance rover successfully landed on Mars, beaming back awe-inspiring photos of the red planet. Meanwhile, back on earth, largely due to corporate greed and political malfeasance, Texas was experiencing a massive electricity generation failure that left millions without power, food, and water during severe winter storms. While the metaphor of perseverance felt somewhat too ‘on-the-nose,’ I still felt compelled—with the help of enjambment and unwieldy syntax—to scream into the void about this dark irony.”
Deborah Paredez