Elizabeth Smither

Two security guards talking about Jupiter

Four little canvas bags of takings, one float, one
cash box and two guards to open the security room
where the squat safe is waiting. End of day ritual

but tonight they are talking of Jupiter
in male fashion. Did you see that
TV programme? About what the Earth

will be like when it dries out? A prune
sinking in on itself, a dust bowl falling
inwards like the orchestrated blowing up

of a building that comes down on the
spot ordained. Jupiter, on the contrary,
is a crystal planet. How strange, fitting

the cash bags in, pushing the cash box back
turning the handle so the teeth of the door mesh
and the maker’s gold seal glows in the light

then finally the long thin key that someone
locked in the room might turn to open
to take out the bags and play with the money

but be unable to escape because the door
is deadbolted. Walking away, thinking
how like a little safe this planet is

locked tight, we trust, for the night
its systems meshed. Earth preserved in its
abundant waters, Jupiter in its dark moonlets.

Author’s Note


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