He peels off his synthetic outer, human skin
and wipes the red adhesive residue from the
enflamed, blistered amphibian flesh that has
always belonged to him. Tears of pain cloud
his eyes. He has no further need of pretense.
However long he stays on dry land, a watery
burrow will be his actual home. It hurts him
almost as much to have tubing penetrate his
nostrils as it does to feel a man’s warm body
only through a lifeless membrane of silicone.
On the vacant observation deck, he watches
the jointed transports slip in silence through
the night, across the bridge onto the plateau
beyond the darkened tower atop which blue
phosphorescent signals monotonously blink.
All is well, whether the sleepers surrounding
him survive in their luminous beds or not or
whether there never were fleshly people and
instead there existed only mineral accretions
of dust and fluid bearing a semblance of life.
His lover, who betrayed him as all terrestrial
natives must eventually, is as good and dead,
and every memory of that man will dissipate
into the ice fog rising over the wetlands that
will someday be covered with artificial stone.