Million-Year Elegies – Hallucigenia

Million-Year Elegies – Hallucigenia
Ada Hoffmann

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.