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Contents Page: Oct 1, 2011, vol 7 no 3

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Peter Newton

Keepsakes

Irradiated, forced into orbit, we land after three months in circles, guided to our assigned sector. We will remain quarantined. No moon and only the faintest glow of sunlight helps us measure the days. What we had always known as days. Time is something else here. Each immigrant from Earth adds a stone to our center cairn. When the pile can no longer stand on its own, the entrance is blocked. A crude but effective way to keep us somewhat isolated from each other. Disorganized.

Gravity is a god here. When it speaks, a sacrifice is made. More refugees file into the next quadrant. The sand is a landscape of stack-stone pillars with no roof. And there is no weather to speak of. Nothing to pass the time but the space our eyes share. No going back either. Even if we wanted to.

Our technology seems sentimental to the natives of this planet who are, ironically, sophisticated. They have mastered the art of dwelling underground. We never see them. They must think us primitive with all the things we hold onto. A little boy surrenders his lucky shell. It is the way we have all lived, I understand now. Our heads in the sand. So much for luck. Now, we are curiosities. Guppies or some other feeder fish. Keepsakes to be kept alive to see how we interact and to hear what sounds we make. Our singing alone must be an amusement.

One by one, amid screams, they remove us by some miraculous levitation up and over the barriers. The ground opens and closes with one of us inside. They continue their searches. Their human archaeology. No one returns to tell of their discoveries.

a child's face . . .
the tranquil surface
of the sea

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