First Generation: The Counselor Prepares Her Retirement Speech by T.D. Walker

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First Generation: The Counselor Prepares Her Retirement Speech by T.D. Walker
Illustration by Sue Babcock
On Earth, there is a Center                 I can’t read
for Generation Ship Studies,                what my son writes,
one which collects our stories              especially the “I” poems;
about who we tell them we are.              later, he told me 
My son tells me this is what we do          the speaker was never himself.
when we are trainees, or were               Too intimate, those lines
back on Earth: counselors counseled,        about life here.
given the same treatment as depressed       Crises, I thought at first,
clients are given. What I tell him          would lie in nostalgia.
when he feared he’d be forced into          The case files fail
my profession: here, there are few          to note the real problem,
choices we get to make. You were            increments of loss
lucky not to have to drift into it.         of who we used to be.
I tell him how strange it is                That there is no self
to have to develop a world-                 behind the experiences each poem
sized mind when only a hundred              made me believe them
boarded this hollowed space                 and happened to him: I
within a hollow space—                      could not bear that loneliness.

BIO: T.D. Walker is the author of Small Waiting Objects (CW Books, 2019), a collection of near-future science fiction poems. Her poems and stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Web Conjunctions, The Cascadia Subduction Zone, Luna Station Quarterly, and elsewhere. Walker draws on both her grounding in literary studies and her experience as a computer programmer in writing poetry and fiction. She blogs occasionally at her website: