We Made Contact by Vanessa Borjon

Vanessa Borjon

We Made Contact

If you plant a poppy seed in a season of late rainfall, the flower will bloom in early March. The bright orange petals will open themselves like lovers stretching in the morning. On Mars this labor takes twice as long; the water should be built first. So many hands involved in this quiet ritual of opening.

There are farmers who do this, harvest water, the task as serene as an earth-person could probably ever imagine. Everything about a Martian mostly stays the same, with perhaps the biggest difference being a higher tolerance for harsh dirt and a bigger craving for pralines. But that’s a different story. Those who build water are not valued more than any other farmer, but they are known for their gentle footwork. There are rocks, smoothed by cobblers (another pair of hands involved in the system of poppies), which have been piled into a sort of wide-mouthed graft, and the water, exported from an iridescent machine much like a computer, but softer by the touch and made of jelly with benign wiring, pours out what we know as H2O. The water flows in a basin, and the farmers swoosh and splash their feet, never too harshly, by the mood of their crop. Again, no notable difference, and the substance is never bought, but borrowed; the only stipulation being that it flows back into the planet, food for whatever you are growing.

A poppy’s biggest worry in life is if it should ever feel unloved. There is needed so much contact and it is never afraid to ask and we are never afraid to give.


“How close do you feel to me right now?” He withdrew the phone from his ear and noticed the greasy screen. He shimmied his sock off his right foot with his toes. Two-hundred-and-sixty days worth of distance away, she stood in an oversized t-shirt watering plants in the Garden, which, to us earth-people, is really just a cubby-hole cut into a private glass-walled den, the rounded top covered in cellophane to let steam out for condensation. Such sensitive conditions, but the flowers on the Other Planet are as temperamental as growing wheat out of season back here on Earth. On her side of the universe it was 9:34 PM, which means the sky was the most red it would reach all day, her skin glowed devilish, the hair-tie keeping her ponytail up looked like a ring of fire.

“The way your voice is traveling through the telephone and into my atmosphere is making it sound like you’re underwater. Are you swimming with fish?” She laughed.

“If I were in water, would I be closer to you?” The edge of his pillow got caught between his teeth. “There has to be a way to do this.”

“You put your whole body in water? That seems excessive. How do you do that? Indoors? What happens to what’s left over? I imagine earth-people covered in…” She touched gently a sprig of grass, so tender-headed, it shivered and she felt a wave of what Martians call serenity. “Petals. White ones that smell like honey.”

“Sometimes I smell like maple syrup, but most of the time only like a long day.”

“That sounds earthly.”

He felt his eyelash flicker on his finger, gripping the phone in place. “Try it with me.”

“Okay. I’m ready.”

He goes to the window and searches for the small light of the Other Planet.

“Do you see me?” She unlatches the hook of her front door and starts running toward the brightest point of red. “This would work better if you were on the ship.”

Suddenly, it comes into view. This wannabe reflection of everything he’s ever comfortably known: showers, waiting for a bus, the Atlantic and Pacific ocean, North Face fleece jackets, ceramic tiling. “I see it. I see it right there.”

“Running makes me lose my breath. Why do you do it for fun?”

“I’m going to start running too, okay? I’ll meet you in the middle.”

Vanessa Borjon is a writer and educator living in Chicago. She has been previously published in journals like No Assholes, Corazonland Review, Quaint Magazine, Columbia Poetry Review and etc. This piece was inspired by proximity and longing for Moses Lake, Washington.