Science Fiction


By – Elizabeth Barrette

I am tabby, distant kin of the ounce.
Though scientists made me to be their tool,
I am no leaf in some genetic pool.
They are the ones, someday, I shall denounce.
My whiskers arch; I tense; at last I pounce!
The mouse I catch is plastic, smooth and cool.
It gives me pleasure. Don’t call me a fool.
I know myself – a self – and that’s what counts.

Come feed me, scientist! Come clean my mess!
Then let me return to my avatar.
(The stealthy hunter leaves a false address.)
Across these screens, I roam where mountains are,
Gray tabby descended of ounce, oh yes –
Descended, perhaps, not so very far.

By – Elizabeth Barrette

The Sky-Eyes speak:

We are the Sky-Eyes,
the blue people of the air.
When you came to our world,
it was our territory you flew through
on your way down.

To us Queen Cosmos gave wings and the wind:
it is our duty to defend against threats from above.
When the songhawks come with their deadly voices,
we draw them off with the dance of eyespots.
You say that you mean us no harm, but
Your words batter our ears as savagely as hawk-song.

We know that our young eat the young of the Earth-Hearts.
We know that you think this is wrong,
but this is how our peoples live.
We cannot raise our own young as you do;
those perverts who have tried it always fail.
Without our family ties to the Earth-Hearts,
we would have no balance for the lightness of our minds
and no defense against dangers from below.
We live as we were made to live, and our life is good.
We cannot help how we are made.

How can we tell you
that what would be abuse for you
is for us a fair exchange?
How can we make you understand
that it defines rather than undermines our morality?
We cannot live without the Earth-Hearts;
the ruins of history have shown us why.
Your species was born to compete, even with each other:
how can we teach you cooperation when it is not in your nature?

The Earth-Hearts speak:

We are the Earth-Hearts,
the red people of the land.
When you came to our world,
it was our territory you landed upon
when your ship touched down.

To us Queen Cosmos gave strength and the earth:
it is our duty to defend against threats from below.
When the burrowers come with their crushing claws,
we bite them and sting them and drive them away.
You say that you come in peace, but
we smell the metal claws with which you would crush our culture.

We know that the Sky-Children eat our young.
We know that you think this is wrong,
but this is how our families love.
We cannot abandon their young as you would do;
they are so adorable, they rouse our nurturing instincts.
Without our family ties to the Sky-Eyes,
we would have no balance for the heaviness of our bodies
and no warning of dangers from above.
We love as we were made to love, and our families are good.
We cannot help how we are made.

How can we tell you
that what would be oppression for you
is for us a cherished bond?
How can we make you understand
that it supports rather than constricts our civilization?
We cannot live without the Sky-Eyes;
those who have tried, have all died out.
Your species was born alone and made to be lonely:
how can we teach you of symbiosis when it is not in your nature?

The Twin Peoples speak:

We are the Twin Peoples,
who share the world between us,
each completing the other.
It is our territory which you occupy:
we share it with each other,
and we would share it with you
if only you understood sharing.

To us Queen Cosmos gave the secret of synergy:
it is our honor to live in alliance.
Whatsoever the future may fling at us,
we will face it together, for in our unity nothing may defeat us.
You offer us the knowledge of the stars,
but you have no wisdom.
We do not know how the people of the stars
might be fitted into society alongside
the people of the sky and the people of the land,
but even if we knew, would you do it?

We know now that you raise your own young,
each individual caring for those you engender.
We think that this is wrong, that it limits you,
but it is how you were made so perhaps it works for you.
We cannot imagine a culture built on such bonds.
None of us really understand such a thing, or want it,
but we will try to put it out of our minds and work with you.
Without family ties to another species,
will you be able to live with us and love us?
You are what you were made to be,
but sometimes we fear your songs and your claws;
we wonder if you are truly civilized.

How can we tell you
that what is true for you
is not true for us, for everyone?
You cannot see through the walls of your truth
into our tunnels or our skies.
You with your single species are yet sundered from yourselves,
unable to agree, believing yourselves so different
each from the other.
How can we tell you it is not so
when your belief is rock and your logic floss?

It could be that you will destroy us,
but we cannot help ourselves:
you are so vulnerable and so adorable,
we cannot resist taking you in and
trying to teach you the wonders of reciprocity.
We will watch over you and care for you,
and even if you eat some of us it will be all right:
we understand that is how the world was made.

Then we will see what the Three Peoples can do
when the Star-Minds, the white people of space,
have added their strange new gifts
to those of the Sky-Eyes and the Earth-Hearts.
When Queen Cosmos declares it is time for metamorphosis,
you must trust Her judgment and believe enough
to try.