A Poem by Jennifer Givhan

by Mark Bibbins, Editor

Mars One Candidate Alison Rigby

Pioneers are always ridiculed, but I am doing this for something better, which will hopefully benefit more people than just staying at home and keeping my mum happy.

We start the training cutting out cigarettes & beer.
They show us the kinds of insects we might eat
if we’re lucky. We could die in 68 days after
landing, if we start growing our own vegetables
right away. Something about the oxygen levels
something about nitrogen. We aren’t scientists — 
this is reality. My mum wants to know how
they’ll bury our bodies when we go. She doesn’t
believe in cremation. How will the Lord
raise you from the dead when he returns
for the reckoning? She doesn’t wonder if he’ll
make an extra trip to the red planet. He’s
omnipotent — he’s his own time machine. It’s not
like a deep-sea trip or the tundra & soon I’ll be
back on terra firma. It’s death row. But I want
my life to matter. I want to mean it when I go.

Jennifer Givhan is a current NEA fellow and author of Landscape with Headless Mama, winner of The Pleiades Editors’ Prize (forthcoming 2016). Her honors include a PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices Fellowship, The Frost Place Latin@ Scholarship, The Pinch Poetry Prize, and inclusion in Best New Poets 2013.

You will find more poems here. You may contact the editor at poems@theawl.com.