Aphelion Issue 291, Volume 28
February 2024
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Another Green Sky

by Simon MacCulloch

Inspired by Bruce Pennington’s cover painting for the Third Isaac Asimov Double (New English Library, 1973)

The depths of an alien sky gloom green and an alien sun burns gold
And the bones on the shore make the twilit scene seem a stage for a tale untold
Which the birds in the vast cold bay may recall, or the coral preserve in its shape
While a curtain of - rock? - like a cataract’s fall is a blaze on a light-drenched cape
And the time that’s to come has already been, and the new world has long worn old.

Are they ruins we see on the nearest bar where it floats on the glass lagoon?
Was that arch, spire lit by the sinking star, made by folk of this watery moon
(For a moon of that huge ringed planet up there may be what we are standing on)
And if so, do their ghosts gild the gelid air with the breath of a race long gone?
Or perhaps they’re asleep, hidden near yet far in an alien lotus swoon…

Never mind - it is not to the cryptic parts we should look for the time-locked why
It’s the whole, from our feet where the coral starts to the sun in its emerald sky
It’s the sense of the sacred, in beauty pure, borne within us, reflected without
Which the artist knows is the frontier’s lure, what the art of the strange is about:
To discover afresh in our long-worn hearts that it’s wondrous to live, and to die.

© 2022 Simon MacCulloch
image © Bruce Pennington 1973

Simon MacCulloch lives in London and is a regular contributor to Reach Poetry, The Dawntreader and Sarasvati.

Find more by Simon MacCulloch in the Author Index.