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
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