Alien Probe, by Linda Burnett

Like stepping into snow after a bath,

warmth and comfort from our world

shrivel to memory. A field of static,

shadowing the skin, patrols the space.

Cordon sanitaire: halo to make safe.

Weird sensation, numbness of ice

smoothly painted across flesh,

but without pain. Seems natural,

almost anticipated.

Probing for infectors; anomalies scanned.

Heaviness of brain inside skull.

Synapses clutch to connect.

Pulses reduce to half speed.

Nothing penetrates the shell.

Examine systems; eradicate doubt.

All sensory models stripped away,

floating in isolation tank.

Comparisons with stock footage

no longer work. This is too new.

Auditory study; acuity check.

Treacly at the core there is a bloom

of understanding. No words.

Thought-free acceptance seeps

through the profound bank of silence.

Fusion compatibility; communicate.

Stings of colour penetrate the blank:

light and effervescence prickle

in a corona of well-being.

Reaching out for assent.

Empathy analysis; amity screen.

An extraordinary release of pressure

sets us loose. Our minds settle

to the wonder of their world.

Cool, astonishing… gort!


Having been weaned on old black and white science fiction films (they may well have been in colour, but our television wasn’t), my favourites being ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ (1951) and ‘Forbidden Planet’ (1956), not forgetting my beloved original television series of ‘Star Trek’ (1966-1969), I developed a sympathy for the aliens, who were treated with suspicion and often aggression. I also became sceptical that any creatures from another planet must be humanoid or based on earthling characteristics, feeling sure that any higher alien life forms would have dispensed with our clumsy physical attributes and pedestrian modes of communication if they had any sense at all. I therefore wanted to show a different approach to meeting aliens – in the case of my poem, mere humans – cautiously investigating their composition and intentions, as you might expect at the appearance of a potentially disease-ridden new species, but leading to wonder, acceptance and harmony, rather than annihilation.

Yorkshire-born former teacher, Linda Burnett lives in Nottinghamshire and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at York St John University. She has had poems published online and in anthologies, and she had recently won the Penfro Poetry Competition 2020.

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