On a long, solo, morning ride
Glides by a tired, dusty countryside
Slouched in languid angles of repose.
Over sagging homes and crumbling walls
Float magpie feet and strident magpie calls
From top to top of poplar trees.
And in the fields and orchards work goes on
Beginning, as it likely always has, at dawn
On stomachs of bread and soy.
I spent the day on the Jiankou section of the Great Wall with an informal group of hiking enthusiasts. Jiankou is a steep, hilly, unrestored stretch about an hour and a half outside Beijing. Visibility was nil, fifty feet or so, but if you hiked fast and got out beyond the conversation of the main group, stopped, and listened, it was like being in the woods during a snowstorm. Eerie quiet, excepting birds and wind.
As a snarky internet commenter I would say, “the whole earth is part of China, even the moon.” As an American I would say, “<Macho Man Randy Savage Voice> China’s tekin er’ jebs, they need t’ giiiiiiit out, and Obummer needs to quit apologizing for ‘Merica, ohhhh yeah!!!!” As a objective observer I would say, “Hmmm, US ‘pivots’ from Middle East to Asia to balance China by putting lots of military bases in the Philippines, expanding bases in Japan, Korea, Australia……..China starts challenging US regional allies on a regular basis? Makes sense to me.” Also as an objective observer I would say, “Reports of oil deposits on the nearby seafloor? Well, that explains it.”
But Devin, the US Ambassador’s car just got vandalized on the way to embassy. Ohhhh but internet commenter, China’s economy is starting to slow, the real estate markets are showing signs of bubbling, and access to the expanding middle class is experiencing a…..hiccup, and you think the Chi-coms are just gonna let this opportunity to deflect growing unease about the economy onto base, vulgar, nationalistic impulses (think US vs. Iraq) go to waste?
If and when possible could you please deliver the following letter to the night sky for me? Assuming your Falcon Heavy rocket delivers even half its cost-per-pound claims it should only be about $18.70 to mail my .15 oz postcard into the celestial above. Just think of it as a micro-secondary payload.
Dear Night Sky,
This is Devin Howard, a long-time fan, sci-fi nerd, and general supporter of night-time vistas. I’m living in China right now, in Beijing actually, so about the only two celestial bodies I see regularly are the moon and sun. Particulate smog drowns out everything else behind a sickly gray veil of dust and automobile emissions. I hope things are going well up there in the cold, impersonal, yet hypnotically inviting black. Tell the stars I said hello, and all the planets and moons. It appears that human beings (read: human leadership) have relegated you to a position of importance somewhere between censorship debates and national debt brinkmanship. Maintaining endless war, limiting reproductive rights, denying global warming, and converting the earth’s population into captive consumers and dependents of a globalized corporate oligarchy (not you SpaceX) have become, apparently, more important endeavors. Anyway, just wanted to say hi, if you decide to destroy earth with an asteroid to prevent humans from escaping, virus like, and ruining other parts of the cosmos I’ll completely understand.