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Elizabeth Barrette is a freelance writer who lives in Charleston, Illinois. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including Terra Incognita, Fantastic Worlds, and the Mindsparks Science Fiction Poetry Anthology. She also regularly writes reviews for Intermix, The Lost Library of Alexandria, and Infinity Online.


Dark Planet is designed and edited by Lucy A. Snyder. If you spot any errors, or if you have any comments, please contact her at lusnyde@indiana.edu.

All materials copyright 1996-1997 by their respective creators. No stories, articles, poems or images from this webzine may be posted or published without the written consent of their creators.

The Green Tears of Heaven

by Elizabeth Barrette

    A diamond bit through steel and stone
    Punched a hole through an asteroid's heart

    A man stared at the readouts, impatient,
    Waiting to strike it rich, but his claim
    Did not cooperate.

    Naked daydreams flitted through his mind.
    The wail of sirens snatched him back from bliss,
    Insistent -- another breakdown, he saw.
    Grumbling, he scrambled into his suit.

    Outside, the source of trouble revealed itself:
    The bit jammed again. He would have to cut it out
    By hand: hard work, and risky. Reluctance
    Accompanied him down the dark shaft.
    Halfway to his goal, he paused

    Arrested by a glitter of green, a wink
    In the black eye of night. His headlamp fell
    On a strange formation -- pinpoints of emerald
    Embedded in the iron wall. He took his pick
    And hacked them out, to give his girlfriend
    Back on Earth: a pocket full of peridots.

    As he worked to free his drill, again
    An errant gleam dispelled his concentration
    This time pale as frost -- no, true frost!
    Feathers of silver at the edge of sight
    Where the drill bit deep.
    I'm rich! he thrilled.
    I've struck water! Well, ice anyway: H2O.

    And he capered as much as he could
    In the tight confines of the tunnel,
    Chipping the drill bit free.
    Only when his air meter peeped an urgent warning
    Did he realize his danger -- too late.
    They found him four weeks later, a third of the way
    From the surface, frozen stiff. They gave the gems
    To his girlfriend, who wept as she warmed them in her hands.

    She had them set in a necklet of nickel-iron
    From the asteroid, and wore it often.
    The water made her rich, and in the new circles
    She frequented people wondered why
    She did not bedeck herself with diamonds.
    But to her, diamonds were for drill bits
    And death. The peridots, at least,
    She could see as beautiful
    Like sirens or will-o-wisps in the whispery dark.