You, What’s-your-name, who down the byways of my blood
are hurtling toward the future, tell if you’ve packed
the thousand flavors of the wind, the river’s voice,
the tongues of moss and fern singing the earth.
And where have you left the rain? Careful: don’t lose it,
nor the moan of the seagull in her blue desert,
nor those stars warm as caresses
you will not find again in your nights of steel.
Watch that you don’t run short of butterflies;
learn the colors of the hours;
and here, in this little case of bones
I’ve left you the perfume of the seas.
—Rhina P. Espaillat, “For My Great-Great Grandson the Space Pioneer,” from Where Horizons Go (New Odyssey Press, 1998)