A Year on Mars

is nearly twice as long as a year
on Earth. It takes the Red Planet

687 Earth days to circle the sun —
nearly as long as I orbited you

before I began to degenerate.
You must be awfully affable,

having befriended time — and such
a flamboyant wardrobe! Remember

our first date? An illustrated lecture
on the sex lives of ancient Romans?

You learned that I am no classicist —
can’t tell an urn from a cistern,

column from ruin and slept through
the dawn of the sundial. I discovered

the duration of a perfect year:
according to Plato, 36,000 years,

his calculations ideal, at best.
That would have been some courtship!

Thus began the infancy of our détente,
when I stopped wearing isinglass and

eyelet and began this igneous adventure.
During lunch hours, to please you,

I searched for a true red, an ipse dixit
ipso facto
. During the Iron Age, a period

of ruddiness that I recall only vaguely
as this low-carb diet affects short-term

memory, everyone was annoyed, hurling
invectives and bumping into the sun

while waves swarmed the shore: not the idyll
you detailed in your notorious memoir

and I am not that palled, triple-jointed
lass stranded on that mythic isthmus.

I was always called upon to break
through the line — Red Rover, Red Rover

because I was bloodless, cool to the touch.
How long it takes to say, “ice…” —

nearly a full year on Mars with that
tall drink of a vowel and lazy sibilant.

At this rate, we shall need Plato’s full
allotment to know what each other

is capable of — stranding a preposition,
widowing a noun — while Mission Control

is still giving orders and perfection is
so far away.

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