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I lived a noble state, inert,
imagining myself as superfluid
when you landed in my air space
thinking I was Jupiter—a common
mistake, given my alpha particles.

Actually, I’m—

But you wouldn’t listen. My boiling
point was low, and you were in
search of a protective atmosphere
capable of cooling what you smugly
described as your superconducting

Lift off! I should have said, and
didn’t. My melting point is also
notoriously low.

You talked a lot in our early days
about equilibrium, and while I didn’t
like the pressure much, I agreed
to liquefy, but the cooler you became,
the more I longed for those halcyon
years on Vesuvius with Luigi—
mmm, hot lava, who’s your Papa?

I will never—I shouted in our
first big argument—solidify for
you! You still weren’t listening.

Then came the day while trying
to escape you, that I met Erasmus
and felt for the first time appreciated
for the abundance of my high
binding energy

and though I wore no nuclear
halo during our antics in Manhattan,
you and I did achieve pitchblende
of a sort; my lighter than air
matched your need to rise and
we bonded in a spectacular
nucleo-genetic bang they’re still
talking about in bars in the
outer cosmos.

Alas, my dear, your continued
preference for my liquid state
isn’t good for you or me.
Push me below lambda, and
I’ll head for the exit hatch
every time. The day you woke
up and I wasn’t there, I had
already evaporated.

But things aren’t all bad. You’re
airborne now, fueled by other
noble compounds, and from
where I hover, happily ionized,
I can see that planet you were
aiming for where the lovin’ is
good and the solar winds
run high.

Yeah, those helium-3 regoliths
will take some getting used to,
but you and I have whipped
up some exotic isotopes in
our day—and you’ve
finally learned to listen.

So go ahead and land,
pilot. You’ll be fine, and
you will always know
where to find me.

© Elaine Stirling, 2012