A Martian Sends A Postcard Home
By Craig Raine
Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings
and some are treasured for their markings -
they cause the eyes to melt
or the body to shriek without pain.
I have never seen one fly, but
sometimes they perch on the hand.
Mist is when the sky is tired of flight
and rests its soft machine on ground:
then the world is dim and bookish
like engravings under tissue paper.
Rain is when the earth is television.
It has the property of making colours darker.
Model T is a room with the lock inside -
a key is turned to free the world
for movement, so quick there is a film
to watch for anything missed.
But time is tied to the wrist
or kept in a box, ticking with impatience.
In homes, a haunted apparatus sleeps,
that snores when you pick it up.
If the ghost cries, they carry it
to their lips and soothe it to sleep
with sounds. And yet they wake it up
deliberately, by tickling with a finger.
Only the young are allowed to suffer
openly. Adults go to a punishment room
with water but nothing to eat.
They lock the door and suffer the noises
alone. No one is exempt
and everyone's pain has a different smell.
At night when all the colours die,
they hide in pairs
and read about themselves -
in colour, with their eyelids shut.
I spoke too soon about Thanksgiving being relatively calm -- there were small disasters between my mother and sister that I did not witness, and apparently larger quarrels when that branch of the family went downtown together (my kids had plans with a friend and I had to review Star Trek so we missed that trip, wouldn't all have fit in one vehicle anyway), and by the time my immediate family arrived at my parents' for dinner, my sister and her husband were already out, staying in a downtown hotel while my mother, my husband and I tried to deal with dinner for the five children plus my father who is often more complicated than the six-and-olders. In the middle of dessert, the phone rang -- it was my sister's husband's sister, calling to say that their mother, who had come through brain surgery a few weeks ago with flying colors and had gone to Florida for Thanksgiving, was back in New York -- she'd had some swelling, they did a scan, now something is showing up where the supposedly benign tumor was removed. My parents tracked down my sister in Georgetown and her husband was on a plane an hour later; she stayed downtown since she was already camped out there, is planning to grab her kids in the morning and take off. I have no idea what's going on with her husband's mother yet, if they even know.
So yeah, I'm stressed. The Trek review is "The Alternative Factor" and it is a shamefully mediocre review, mostly because it's a bad episode that I happen to like a lot anyway. I mean, the alternate universe business does not hang together at all and there are some horribly over-the-top moments -- Lazarus falling many feet off of Vasquez Rocks, twice! But when Kirk and Spock are sitting around trying to puzzle things out and Spock keeps calling Kirk "Jim" while gently informing him that the radiation source is not in their universe, well...it really does not take a lot to make me happy. Have just folded laundry while watching both commentaries on Smallville's "Red" (in which everyone sees the Clex from Millar & Gough to Rosenbaum & Welling) plus the blooper reel, which has gone some way to mellow me out. So here are some scenes from around the house earlier that might entertain others as well.
The entire family played LOTR Monopoly before the kids went to bed, and as you can see, I really mean "the entire family" -- Aragorn and Boromir were represented by game pieces, but Cinnamon and Rosie insisted on being present so that Cinnamon could try to bat at the dice when they were thrown and Rosie could nip at the hand of whoever was moving pieces along the red and yellow properties. She tried to hoard older son's $500s, too.
Here Rosie expresses her opinion of younger son's white lion (this is an official Siegfried & Roy lion from the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas from our trip the summer before last). Doesn't she look like a kid who was forced to pose next to someone she doesn't really like?
And here is Boromir amidst his nestyfluff, which consists of shredded paper towels and napkins, gnawed toilet paper tubes, some recycled hamster-and-gerbil cage material and bits of a macaroni box that he somehow managed to drag into his cage and gnaw before we discovered and removed it.