The Golden Record aboard Voyager, 1977
We wanted to make a good impression. Maybe even to launch a conversation.
Bonjour in fifty-five languages—some, like Sumerian and Akkadian, long dead.
Bach, Beethoven, Chuck Berry, the tap-tap of Morse code, birdsong and whale song.
The silhouette of a naked man and woman made the final cut, but no nude photographs. Taxpayers were adamant. Not even a naked baby.
And no photos of war or nuclear explosions. They might get ideas.
A billion years from now, when the earth is a charred cinder, our Voyager may land on some friendly galactic shore. And with it, the Golden Record, our calling card.
To Whom It May Concern: We just wanted to drop by and say, Hello, how are you? We were fine.
—from Swimming in the Rain: New and Selected Poems 1980–2015