Size / / /

The Earthmen come to my bedside

because I am the last

and there is no one else

to dance and sing for me.

It is so right, the sound,

the intonation, the grief

in their chanting, I forget—

almost—that I taught them

each to speak their alphabets,

the once and ancient way

we have done everything.

There are no children of my blood

because I have failed under the eye

of history to make a family

with another fullblood,

the wrong desires, wrong genes.

The children of my breath sing

and sing as though we had not gone

before them, as if tomorrow

there would still be beauty

in the islands to sing about.

Of course: the beach at Tuara,

the snow of Kek Auna, always

the surf against the rocks,

always the royalty out dancing.

The land has made us what we are.

Islands empty of us,

do my people still remain

in the slow-limbed, short-throated,

cold bodies who traveled here from Earth?




Mary Alexandra Agner writes of dead women, telescopes, and secrets. Her poetry, stories, and nonfiction have appeared in The Cascadia Subduction ZoneShenandoah, and Sky & Telescope, respectively. She can be found online at http://www.pantoum.org.
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13 May 2024

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