[DO NOT DISTURB by Terry McGarry]
We sleep through two of your centuries
as methane ice, alive
in the dreaming that is the true movement
but unrecognizable to your machines,
blank and dormant.

Awake, in the quick warm time,
we must retrieve the thought tendrils
probing ever farther
(never far enough to satisfy;
we have only just reached you
in our efforts toward our common star)
and concentrate all our selves
on our expanding bodies.

We have no autonomic nervous system,
and in heat every thought is of continuing;
distraction kills us. We touch, we procreate,
we mingle in osmotic ecstasy,
on driving winds, in tortured storms.
It takes all we are to survive
what you'd call living, the active time
of growth and death,
of purification and murder.

You would know us then.
Please do not be deceived. That time
is brief; we welcome rest, but yearn
to move our minds again through the promise
of vacuum, seeking warmth of other kinds.

When the perihelic frenzy subsides, when
reorganized, resettled, we sigh
into frozen sleep, we are free:
hibernation brings liberation,
condensation release.
We fly from corpora safe
in ice lattices, no longer enslaved
by our own metabolic maintenance, free
to wander and to learn.

Thus we met you, though you do not know it,
cannot hear us. We fear your large blue ball,
the terrible metallic intelligence
propelling you toward us. You seek
friendship at best, knowledge at worst.
Either way, you will destroy us.

Stay away. We are here,
like your trees, your viruses, here
and not here. Your probes will melt
our bodies, crack our skeletal crystal, slice
the tenuous bond between here and there--
we might never come home.

Do not trample on the tardigrade,
the hibernating bear. They are not there;
give them the courtesy of attending
their own deaths. It is a precious thing
your heat and cruel unknowing steel will shatter.
We are so small and you are so young.

Step carefully.

Copyright © 1989 Terry McGarry
Originally appeared in Star*Line, the magazine of the Science Fiction Poetry Association.

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