While on the evacuation shuttle

I rub my temples, murmur, “barometric pressure,”
to no one in particular, more to break the silence
that weighs heavier than gravity’s absence, but
the woman strapped in next to me says, “No, honey,
it’s the lack of oxygen going to your brain,”
and while I think her assessment doubtful,
I nod pleasantly (manners are even more
important where we’re going), listen to her ramble
about oxygen deprivation and altered states
of consciousness while staring out the viewport
at the starless night, the looming insectoid structure
soon to be our home, while trying not to succumb
to yet another migraine or vomit up my daily rations
or worry about all those people who didn’t make
the final shuttles, while pondering the sound of
ice caps melting, floodwaters rising, ten billion
stars embracing us before dawn.

—Terrie Leigh Relf