Roman came back to medbay alone, and found that Dr. Peterson was elsewhere. The small bound volume he had seen her reading lay on her desk and he picked it up, thinking it was an old book. It was; an old hand-made, hand-written book of poetry. He put it down immediately and backed away from the thing as if it were a snake, and it was; the serpent from the garden, tempting him to taste of the tree of knowledge.
Curiousity had always been his weakness.
He edged up to the thing and touched the soft, spirilina-cloth cover, green shot with orange, red and yellow, like little flames. He picked it up again and read.
It was a journal full of verse, and was written by at least three different people. One he recognized as the Doc's hand writing. She had a strong hand, feminine yet business-like, stern. A clownish hand had scribbled the first third or half of the poems, some few of them attributed, 'tradititional' and other names he did not recognize. The others. presumably, were original to the journalist. They were all about space and ships, in Teklish, so he did not follow some of it, but it was the tears and dragons' teeth of a people who would not give in. He knew their breed, of old.
There was a fourth hand, stating a date, a death- of 'Uncle Roark', who had 'made the trip home'. It was signed Louis Armstrong Wednesday III.
A child's hand had written poems then, childish verse about heroes, hopes, forlorn feats. It was truly bad, and then got better, line by line, verse by verse.
A few dozen pages on, it had stopped, after a poem called 'Faces, Voices'. The child had become a man and the man had become a killer. Not a murderer; a solver of problems, an ender of threats. The old soldier in him ached at that pain.
The next poem was in the Doc's hand-writing. Roman read the first two lines and closed the volume, ashamed of himself for intruding into this private thing between two lovers. He set the journal down as he'd found it and turned to face Valentine Saint Wednesday. The two men stood there for long seconds before Val reached past to pick up the book.
"Varied and, in parts, raw."
"Ships' manners are all about keeping us from killing each other inside a pressure vessel. Sometimes we see the same faces for decades on end."
"I am truly sorry."
"But you would do the same thing again; better yet, not get caught doing it?"
Roman considered his words with care and decided to nod, instead.
"Good answer." Val tossed him the book. "Read it, if you will; all of it. I'll square it with Diana. She's good, at least I think so. And my Great Uncle Roark knew what was important. That'll serve you well, I expect."
Between Worlds (Tradtional)
The song lingers long and long, but this, everlasting, when the notes do fade-
Carbon and steel and hearts' blood, of these starships and space-born are made.
From the hearts of dead stars to the space in between, are they bound.
Where reason and logic desert us in favor of a belief, which we have found.
Our ship, our crew, our passengers; the journey, the mission and the duty.
Everything is in this little world between worlds, and no room for pity.
Old Bamboo Glades (The Man)
The restless shrubs of this world,
The restless shrubs of this world,
Clack together like old bamboo glades.
They grow up strong and limber,
In purple with rich red accents.
The blue-green fronds, when bruised,
Scent the air with cinnamon and honey.
Upon the Sand (Doc)
The Man in Black is at it again;
His blade flashes in the morning sun,
As he and his opponent dance;
A dance of Art and of Science;
A dance of Life and Death, upon the sand.
The sword-point dazzles the watching eye,
And the sharp, sharp, blade parts the air,
Singing of oxygen and carbon and iron;
Singing of the dead hearts of dead suns;
Singing of the red-stuff it spills, upon the sand.