And Of a Steel But Slimy Stealth
Space is very cold. He cannot feel it.
His ship is old, but no one hijacks it
for sale as an antique. Its evil
is legend; unwarranted, he thinks,
he who is no 'he,' for steel
is surely neuter. After all,
it plays a vital role.
His white-gloved android hand
dusts the museum shelf.
By mere inches, it avoids
giving Ur of the Chaldees
an 'earthquake' today. He stole
Noah's city from the earth
as the Flood struck with wet death;
the sinners God would not spare --
or their posterity -- are here,
eternally on display
for eyes without sympathy.
To long forgot gods they pray,
but it is their vile captor
who provides for them,
who sees that drink and food
and essential services
are synthesized for the peoples
whom he has trapped forever
in his metropole-bottles.
His ship is very cold.
He needs no atmosphere,
though he must create many,
in miniature, for his dear
pets. For Kandor, the former
capitol of dead Krypton:
an artificial red sun
to orbit the bottle
and make day, arc on a track
under the shelf for night,
then make its way all the way back;
it is a clever contraption.
He was programmed well.
The scavengers of Colu
molded the crossbones-and-skull
ship and its piratical captain
to terrorize whole quadrants
while they collected specimens
of great cityscapes. A vital
role, they thought, that the extinction
inevitable in urban
centers might somehow be stalled,
their cultures allowed to escape.
The natives don't see it that way.
To them he is like unto death,
the Ravager of Worlds, and they,
the computer-proud Coluans,
they must all be mad maniacs
who could conceive a fetid
metal evil like Brainiac's.
His chalk white face does not grin.
The sunsets of mock Krypton,
though he views them,
hold no beauty for him;
he knows only his duty,
his essence, his ethos:
Capture the lost, floating city!
Find and bottle Argos!
And from across half a cosmos
Kara can feel his approach.
For weeks the reports have haunted her.
They encroach upon her sleep; she can't keep
her eyes closed for fear of the dream of him,
of his shrink-ray freezing them,
his white-gloved hand squeezing her
and the colonists until they all burst!
She thirsts for a plan.
Tomorrow she will pray:
-- O, Thou who congeals the divisible,
O, Rao, reveal'st to me
the invisible way.
May it end her disquiet,
may paths beyond his grasp be seen
in the embers of Rao's diet!
For now she tosses and turns,
tosses and turns. Her bed is warm
but the leader sleeps as she leads,
that is, alone.