The Silver Rocks of Life (a scifaiku) – III: The Secret


The Secret

I tiptoe away
from hiss-hiss safety pod lights
casting long shadows;

hoary tentacles
wriggling Sand Commanders’ shouts:
“Get in your bunkers!”

“Get in your shelters!”
The capsules clapping in sync,
sealing our fate shut;

drill heads overhead
drumming: ‘Forgive us, Father,
for they know what—’

I move in shadow
(my camouflage companion)

past generators
and Sector Seven’s gel walls,
throbbing urgency

death-blue on my face
as I feel for the stone key,
cold in my lab coat,

black like ravens’ stare
announcing death in silence.
“Bad omen,” I guess,
“Deservedly so.”

“But the secret I have kept:
Silver Rocks of Life.”


I had met a man
a decade or so ago,
it was a scorcher;
the sun on red dunes
in a desert named Gobi.

In broken spirit,
and broken Chinese.
He was half-Mongolian;
I, from Africa.
We agreed that time,
then crimson waves at our feet,
was running out fast.

“Fruitless was our quest;
our lifelong … search for planets
and other life forms.”

He nodded and spoke,
“We seemed to have created
those … beings ourselves.”
“Before I depart”-
he sounded reassuring-
“Let me give you this.”

Wrapped in a bundle
he handed me the secret,
light as bird’s feather
and cool to the touch.

“It’s beyond power of the imagination
how we came to be.

Earth has been waiting for us with molten insides and magnetic fields,

atmosphere made from gasses. Timing is vital.”

“I don’t understand”
My throat felt like desert sand;
Old Man’s eyes gleamed hope:

“Life just wants to be,
but it all depends on fate.
She’s in your hands now.
In these rocks you’ll find
cells, genetic coding for
all species on Earth.
Each devastation,
each bloodcurdling disaster
brings new hope, my friend.

Life just wants to be…”
With that he dissipated.
Red dust in my eyes.


“Timing is vital”:
The phrase danced inside my brain
like the tiny lights

over the keypad
blinking in front of my eyes.
I punched in the code,

I tiptoed inside
like a cat-burglar from hell
and ran to the safe.

Pure intuition
being my guide in the dark,
I found the keyhole

which felt much bigger
(Imagination, run wild!
Adrenaline, pump!)

Just touching the rocks
reminds me of countless nights
spent; experiments

gone wrong—frustration.

‘Timing is of the essence,”
I remind myself.

So as I stand here
with these empty life-vessels
like a stillborn child

in in his mother’s arms,
I mutter, “What the fuck now?
What am I to do?”

My palms are sweaty
my throat, number five sandpaper.

Then I sense movement.

art by Craig Hopson

words by Ramon Ramirez

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