Million-Year Elegies – Hallucigenia
There is a man in spectacles in Cambridge staring at you, tracing the curled-over outline of your long-dead self. It is he who names you, disconnected hallucination, unable to accept your shape. He is an expert in your time: a time of shifting and changing, of body plans found and discarded as life slips the cage of single cells, looks left and right, grins at its freedom, gets out the brightest biomolecular Lego bricks and plays. This man accepts an invisible God. Yet he cannot quite believe what he sees with his eyes: this shape lacking head or tail, the sheer spinesplotchy patched-together matter-of-factness of you. It is no matter to you, who plays hopscotch and tug-of-war with five-eyed hose-nosers and pineapple-mouthed shrimp. An eye, however bulging or beady or shrewd, is only a toy for finding light. It does you no harm if it cannot stop staring. Nor if it names you and baptizes you in its too-tight taxonomy, still doubting, even through the thick glass of five hundred million years, that you were ever real.
Ada Hoffmann is an autistic computer scientist from Canada. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Goblin Fruit, Stone Telling, and Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing.