What Aliens Read

Numbers, charts, equations,
folded n-space projections,
projectile trajectories,
probabilistic damage estimates.

Past tense. What they read,
formerly, there being none
extant to examine the errors
that led to their extinction.

Reports from our veterans,
excavation of the ruins,
indicate only the essential.
Barracks. Factories. Power grid.

No paintings, no sculpture,
no ornaments, no tapestry,
no toys, no flowers, no pets,
no poetry, no stories, no music.

If there was any more than this,
if they cradled their offspring,
if they sang to praise the dawn,
it is buried beneath our victory.

—Mary Soon Lee