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.
is designed and edited by Lucy A. Snyder. If you spot any errors, or if you have any comments,
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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
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.