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Backward Compatibility (Quinceañera on a Generation Ship)

This poem was first published in Apparition Literary Magazine.

By the time you receive our message,
you should be turning 15!
If we calculated correctly.
This is rocket science, after all.

You’re a young woman now.
       Now. Such a strange concept
       since we’ll all have aged much more than you.

We hope the dress fits.
The one your parents agreed to pack before launch.
The one the color of nebulae viewed through a telescope,
       enhancing what human eyes cannot see—
magentas and reds,
       the increasing wavelength of light.

We imagine your first dance,
gown swirling around you
as you hurtle between stars.

La familia misses you.
You haven’t had enough time to miss us, but
todo está bien.
       It has to be bien.
       What other choice have we?

We wish we could wish you
a happy Sweet 16
in one more of your years,
but that will be up to our children and their children
and the backward compatibility
of our technology with yours.

We have faith
that la sangre runs as wide as it does deep,
magentas and reds flowing between stars,
a vibrance waiting to reward the right lenses.

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