Recovery Commands

in Science & Tech by

“My battery is low and it’s getting dark.”
– Final message received from the Opportunity rover on Mars

I expect nothing else
from my species:
when death spins closer
like a world of dust
we get busy writing code
for resurrection.
We communicate
with what is ours in dust:
Turn this way. Come back.
Take a picture of the sun.
We hold up a finger
and wait for more silence
as if we have consent to give.
Sometimes it seems
darkness has patience too—
we’re granted minute
after minute because
it might be the minute
a voice, a pulse returns
and the end will be
pleased to stuff itself
up some other pipe.
I’m not proud
but this is how I love,
as if it is my nature
to receive an answer.
I chose to love you
beyond our living
yet neither of us knows
how to accomplish this,
so we built a promise
out of what? metal?
and shot it into space.
When our time is up,
not even the universe
can erase the atoms
that made up my mind.
They’ll be exploding
somewhere, sweeping
the atmosphere in the form
of recovery commands:
Wake up. How are you?
Can you hear me?



Abby E. Murray is the editor of Collateral, a journal that publishes work concerned with the impact of violent conflict and military service beyond the combat zone. She teaches writing to army officers on fellowship from the Army War College at the University of Washington, high school students in Tacoma, and detained, undocumented youth in a local detention center.

Photograph by NASA/JPL-Caltech.