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By Lisel Mueller

This is not fantasy, this is our life.


We are the characters


who have invaded the moon,


who cannot stop their computers.


We are the gods who can unmake


the world in seven days.


 


Both hands are stopped at noon.


We are beginning to live forever,


in lightweight, aluminum bodies


with numbers stamped on our backs.


We dial our words like Muzak.


We hear each other through water.


 


The genre is dead. Invent something new.


Invent a man and a woman


naked in a garden,


invent a child that will save the world,


a man who carries his father


out of a burning city.


Invent a spool of thread


that leads a hero to safety,


invent an island on which he abandons


the woman who saved his life


with no loss of sleep over his betrayal.


 


Invent us as we were


before our bodies glittered


and we stopped bleeding:


invent a shepherd who kills a giant,


a girl who grows into a tree,


a woman who refuses to turn


her back on the past and is changed to salt,


a boy who steals his brother’s birthright


and becomes the head of a nation.


Invent real tears, hard love,


slow-spoken, ancient words,


difficult as a child’s


first steps across a room.


Lisel Mueller, “The End of Science Fiction” from Alive Together: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1996 by Lisel Mueller. Reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press.

Source: Alive Together: New and Selected Poems (Louisiana State University Press, 1996)

  • Arts & Sciences
  • Mythology & Folklore
  • Social Commentaries

Poet Bio

Lisel Mueller
Lisel Mueller was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1924. She has had a career both writing poetry and translating. She attended the University of Evansville and did her graduate study at Indiana University. She has taught at the University of Chicago, Elmhurst College, and Goddard College. She has also worked at as a social worker, a receptionist and a library assistant.

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