The Vector by Daniel Nash

Running
underneath an indifferent 2 p.m. sun
I traverse the surface of Mars
in the grip of a runner’s high.
I pant hard as
sweet salt dews
from the unseen portals of my skin.
It stings my eyes.

Behind me you ride
a sleek and terrible technological marvel,
powered by deep pockets
and years
of research and development in the field of rocketry
unavailable to the most
who aren’t the you.

Now
you have your dreadful chariot,
your upgraded broom,
(so last gen)
skating inches above the ground
while you pull out your best
Major Kong impression.

The cackle is distant
but you’re gaining.
The Doppler effect tells me so.
You compress
in direct proportion
to how much I wish
you’d decompress.

I had come out to the desert
to run,
and play, and maybe
pick up some rocks for my collection.
I didn’t pay heed
to my direction,
I set no course.
A fine sediment had just
appeared under my stooped senses
when your dust cloud
appeared as omen
over my shoulder.
All directions gave way to one direction:
Away.

I had the head start, but,
of course,
you straddled raw power.
Your hand and your whisper,
“Here, let me help!”
hit my neck as a simultaneity.

Dragging
underneath an indifferent 2 p.m. sun,
I traverse a cruel vector
in the grip of your ambition.
I gasp hard as
sweet salt dews
from my broken skin.
I can’t see.

But I think,
on the plus side,
I’m collecting more rocks than ever.
Too many
too quickly
to classify.
They come right to me
if I hold out the hem of my shirt
and hold on to consciousness.

How many igneous will you let me keep
if I hold my breath?
How ignominious would it be
to look up at you,
my captor,
and spit up just enough bad blood
to make room for bad faith?
Will you even let me keep the dust
if I turn my face from it
long enough to say,
“Thanks?”

Daniel Nash is a writer and former journalist who lives in Tacoma with his girlfriend, Kat, and also a cat. He can admit to liking one of them. Daniel works at University of Washington Tacoma, where he advises the student staff who operate the weekly newspaper, The Ledger, and the literary journal, Tahoma West.