They fell from Mars like a teardrop.
A gleaming knife—gliding the stars, piercing clear—
A fatal path through deepest space. Sub-speed-of-light.
We sent Her a mercy. Mankind’s bravest
Home. Blue Earth.
The crewmen pinned pictures of Her to their instrument panels,
A reminder of why
They were tasked to end Her life.
They dialled-Her-in from the bridge of the Warship
Longinus. Planetcracker Class. The spear that killed
The Mother just as surely as the Son. They travelled bearing gifts,
Not of Gold or Frankincense, but a
Payload measured in the millions of
They wove asteroids like bullets, climbed and descended
Oort clouds, streaked-by constellated—once in a lifetime phenomena—
The Milky Way glowed.
Radiation battered their hull as they fell, sinking through stars like
Grains of sand. Her time
Drawing its close.
They bore last witness to Her through a viewport. A skeleton crew of
Wisemen gathered to conduct the final ritual.
She squirmed with infection. The Thing from the Stars which had
Fallen like they had, and burrowed Her crust,
Torn mantle and thrust inward, consuming Her iron, chewing
Nickel, it spat molten lead.
The navigator led them through Her parasite’s defences, a
Whip of tentacles drilled outward from its host,
Her body a map of red wounds which flowed. The Longinus, its nose plated
Harder than diamond
Resolve, split mountains as it plunged,
Shattered tectonic armour, slipping between Her ribs,
Drawing magma for blood.
The Thing from the Stars inhabited
Her soil for flesh—drinking Her ocean of our tears—it
Wept as they tore, boring deeper—burrowing—planting
Like a seed in its furrows. It recoiled. Could not be allowed to
Propagate. Its tentacles—thrashing—loosed a last gasp
Of seeds, seeking another Celestial
Body to corrupt. Only
One manoeuvre remained. The men initiated with nodded heads,
The red switch depressed, igniting
Within Her. The three men who left Mars a Mercy
Kill. Our Mother Earth, sick with the rot
We fled. They remained to watch
The light of their sacrifice. An expanding ball
Flame reminds us that
— Kurt Van Ristell is a Bengali/British poet, artist and author living in South London. He works in education, in Lambeth, which is a storyteller’s boon. He writes poetry and novels and digitally paints—largely because travel is simply so expensive. His poems have appeared across publications such as Bandit Fiction, MidLVL Mag, New Note Poetry, Post Script Magazine, and Suburban Witchcraft Magazine.