Friday, November 28, 2014

Voyager Two

I am so far from you now.

I remember watching TV as the Voyager 2 probe sent back the first images from the planet Neptune. I was nine years old. My father told me the probe had been launched three years before my birth. I imagined it up there all through my lonely youth, toiling forward in dark and uneventful silence.

I go through routines. Alarm. Commute. Job. Takeout. TV. Sleep. Alarm. Commute. Job. Takeout. Sleep. Hurtling, as ever, through the dark. I wondered in those nights as a kid, if Voyager ever got lonely. Did it remember in its circuits or its bones what it felt like in the warmth of the sun?

Though there is nothing, really, now to observe (Neptune was the last friend it made) Voyager keeps it up, checking and rechecking, waiting for some sign, magnetic or gravitational, that it has passed some definable border, some sign of progress.

Seven years ago, the digital tape recorder failed. In 2008 the planetary radio experiment cut out. The place doesn't smell like you anymore. I found a hair on my jacket and it took me a couple of minutes to realize it was one of yours. What could I do with it? Couldn't throw it away, so I was stuck on the floor in my coat and shoes ready to go out to some stupid movie with this ridiculous blonde curl in my hands and nowhere to keep it. Some time next year, they figure, the gyroscope on Voyager 2 will give out. Another ten years or so after that, its nuclear heart will finally stop beating. It will still be moving, of course, carried forth by inertia, an echo of us in the long night, keeping its solitary vigil. Not lost, exactly, but headed nowhere in particular, its only choice to just keep moving.

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