Science Fiction #poetry

Seasons in a Moon Ocean

By Daniel Ausema
Apr 6, 2021 · 368 words · 2 minutes

Photo by Jonas Allert via Unsplash.

From the author: Rhysling-nominated poem about the scientists who study the seasonal patterns of a watery moon somewhere.


We call it spring

when currents and gravity conspire

to float our station

into the mineral waters,

where strands of impure ice

crystalize into blooms and branches,

multifoliate formations of inorganic matter.

Ice overhead cracks and reforms

under the stress of the gas giant's pull,

spring's chorus, the sound of ice breaking,

the sight of new growth

We call it summer

over the volcanic seeps;

the heated plumes rise,

push against our hull.

We capture that heat,

electron motion into stored power,

and lift slowly up toward a sky made

of the underside of a thousand meters of ice.

That cold can't reach us, only serves

as distant snowy peaks back home,

foil to the warmth that seeps through the station's skin,

a lazy, humid heat that suits the season

We skip to winter

when the current pushes us

beyond the sublunar fires,

the water still warm, but

gently falling precipitate

is too much like snow

to consider it any other season.

Flakes we've yet to study gather,

pile up on our surfaces.

We sing of a gift-giver transformed,

a submarine Santa crossed

with a jolly Nemo,

aquatic reindeer pulling a Nautilus sleigh

Then back to autumn

we circle, where spring's crystals

crumble into the depths,

mingled with tantalizing hints

of amino acids and protein.

Follow, follow, they call in a language

known to none.

The station's lights reflect off the shards

of falling crystalline forms

long after anything else

reflects back up to us

Some cycles we do follow those voices;

when or why the current goes that way

we've yet to understand,

but when we do, we need a new season

one not known on earth.

With linguist's scalpels we peel fall from autumn,

and fall is what we do

deep into the subsurface

following specks of reflection;

our lights reveal glimpses of greater monuments,

formations that shame spring's simple forms.

Here, we think, here

if someday a voice of intelligence comes to us

if this moon lives, beyond the strands of one-celled life,

it will be here.

We strain toward our sensors,

stare at screens, sigh when the waters

make us rise again to spring

We...call it spring.

This story originally appeared in Dreams & Nightmares.


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Daniel Ausema

Daniel Ausema writes lyrical tales of other worlds, stories of strangeness and wonder.