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A Martian Sends A Postcard Home

 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.

Poem by Craig Raine
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