The End of Science Fiction by Lisel Mueller

Perhaps the way back to relevance is reinvention, perhaps the way back to meaning is rediscovery. I am looking at today as if I have lived exactly one day on this earth, and so far, here is the knowledge that I’ve amassed: my dog’s breath is hot on my palm, and yet his nose is cold when it touches the tips of my fingers. The notion of ‘mine’ is difficult to grasp if you are not aware of what boundaries are. At best what’s mine is what I can embrace, and any amount of effort I put into stretching my arms will not bring the following close to my chest: the sky, the sea, and every single opportunity to be happy. This is my life: I am older and sadder than I’ve ever been, and yet today I will be the youngest and happiest I’ll ever be. This is not fantasy. What is fantasy is the idea that I am not here, and that I am dog, running around the house as it it is the most joyful thing, my tongue hanging out my mouth, my heart beating fast as I hurtle myself towards a body, who embraces me and tells me I am loved.

The End of Science Fiction
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.

(from Poetry Foundation)

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