Somewhere in the Milky Way somebody we would call an alien
is taking out its version of the trash and does not realise
that word is an Americanism. It does this with its version of hands.
This could be anything: looped tentacles with disc-like suckers;
a cybernetic retractable arm; bone and blood; an insect-like mandible.
We have never been there or seen an alien, but nonetheless
we can imagine their mix of horror and delight
when a spaceship lands on their front lawn and a bipedal being
steps slowly down the ramp with what looks like a fishbowl for a head.
They close their eye-slits once, then twice. And wonder
what kind of animal this is, what type of thing, for it does not resemble
their notion of what a person is. They suck on their baleen plates.
For years they have sent out messages: clicks and bleeps,
their understanding of the laws of the universe, tracks
from their latest carnivorous plant pop band. In a disingenuous moment
they veer too close to paranoia and the man with the fishbowl for a head
is taken away by authorities and kept in a small room with little light.
Later, nuclear bombs carpet this somebody’s planet
in an effort to eradicate a nation that is such a threat
that they would take a man captive and ask them to endure
such solitude. Meanwhile sometime in the future on Earth
a man reads a book, much like this, and cries.
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