Planet fall is a rush like you wouldn’t believe.
Pale marble, curving the space around you.

It’s not like resting in orbit around some gas giant,
its size so gargantuan
that you never really have to grapple with it in your head.
You know that it’s twisted reality
into great descending arches,
but you will never slide down them.
Instead you skim around their edges with minute pulses of energy.

But planet fall is like taking the universe
and pushing it in all backwards and inside out.
The horizon is a circle,
an inverted dome,
a bowing sky,
a line.

Where once acceleration created gravity
and stillness free fall,
now stillness pulls at your feet
and falling is confinement.
A well from which you must climb.
A well that licks and cracks with flame as you fall.

When man first sat beneath the stars
and stared into their cook fires,
when man first let fire flicker in his imagination,
transport him to new worlds,
he could not have know the rush,
the joy of seeing those stars through the heat of reentry.

Perhaps he imaged spirits come to earth this way.
Perhaps we are spirits.
We roam between worlds in the empty starlit lands of death
and come home in surging, roaring light.

But if this really were home,
where the planet of our birth,
then everything that could have said for fact we once lived,
would be a century in the dirt.
Mothers and fathers, past loves, neighbors and restaurants.
They dwindled and ceased in the months we spent
playing spades in the mess hall
or talking in our bunks.

Time is the biggest, strangest backward thing of all.
When there is stone beneath your feet,
you really truly are a part of time again.
Moving like molasses from moment to moment.
As slow and as fleeting as all the things you’ve left behind.

Thank God they are dust and gone.