on the third day,
the ache in your chest becomes a bloom
(muscle injury, you thought, tendonitis)
but instead it is a
two-inch tall seedling
with three thin, quivering verdant-green leaves
and after consuming the ship’s encyclopedia,
you determine it resembles a thistle plant
good that it is not a muscle injury from
repairing the hull breach last week
bad because the organ scan shows
being subsumed dying
protocol for contamination
enter the immolation chamber
but you are alone so
no one is there to
chide you as
you angle your ship off the return course,
away from home,
(being gentle with the small plant protruding
just to the left of your right breast,
tendrils rooted around your superior vena cava already)
setting course toward
distant stars you will
let this be, you think,
a quiet, comfortable tomb
two of you
Venne Hrzaan writes speculative fiction and poetry. When she’s not guarding corn muffins from her cat, she sketches the fantastical, or takes walks in the strange tangle that is Florida. You can find her on Twitter @vhrzaan
Author of “Inextricable”
What inspired you to write this story?
I’ve been having some health issues that sometimes interfere with my writing. Altering my writing process has led to exploring shorter pieces, like short stories and poems. This poem began when I was in a moment of deliberation: I wanted to write, but I was also experiencing pain, and so I knew the piece would be short-er, a poem. I imagined an astronaut, also experiencing pain, but for vastly different reasons. Then the words led like stepping stones.
What do you hope readers take from this poem?
Hard question! I hope it imparts a sense of peace, or comfort, or agency, or finality? I think there’s something about the vast emptiness of space, and a lonely astronaut, and the plant growing from them . . . I imagined that the astronaut cared for the plant, and perhaps the place and people they were going to return to weren’t hospitable. I hope the poem leaves a lingering image.
To give other writers hope, would you mind sharing with us how many edits and/or submissions this poem has been through?
I was extremely fortunate in my submission process—Apparition Lit was the second venue I sent “Inextricable” to, in a first round of two markets.
Recommend something to us! This could be a book, a short story, a video game, a project you’ve heard about, something you’re working on, etc. Anything that has you excited and that you want people to know about.
Two things! First, I would recommend the wonderful playlist Marie from the Apparition Lit team made to accompany this issue! The blog post can be found here (hyperlink). Contamination has never been more atmospheric, and I love love loved the two songs she highlighted for “Inextricable.”
Secondly, I would recommend the poem “Prayer for the Mutilated World” by sam sax. It’s beautiful and sharp and devastating.