Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Below the Ice on Enceladus

Looking at photos taken by the satellite Cassini of this minor moon off Jupiter, I was compelled by the images of the water vapour jetting from the polar ice, signifying the presence of unseen oceans, and the possibility of alien life.

Below the Ice on Enceladus

Below the ice on Enceladus
Water runs

That ocean’s sky a dome of ice
A touchable heaven
Colder than our Eden

Cassini drifting in the void
watched vapours
Geyser from the polar ice
A betrayal of that hidden world
Strange tides
Pulling stranger oceans
Below the ice on Enceladus

How does life begin?
Life needs water
The proximity of stars
To seed it.
Water needs life.

Jupiter’s moon of bridal white
throwing back the light
Blindingly empty --
So we thought

Enceladus, a Titan buried
Beneath a snow capped mountain
Frozen and stilled

Below the ice on Enceladus

Fountains bloom
Tides flex
Water, moving -- that’s a recipe --
A dash of sun
debris from exploding stars
That’s how life begins

Is that how it began here?
Earth, falling towards Virgo
through the dust of comets
the spray of stars exploding
Water, unbound from ice.
A Titan stirring
Life exploding
Until everywhere on this planet
Life sings, and blooms, grows, changes

Beneath the bridal white of Enceladus
Passions run ocean deep

what strange lives
dance below the ice on Enceladus
rocked by unseen ocean?
do they dream of land
of forests, dark and endless
the solid bone of rock
longing for drought

While here on earth, beneath the stars
Far below the ice of Enceladus
in the thick forests of Gombe
Chimpanzees dance to bring the rain