Poetry by Jenise Aminoff
"Mesascape" copyright 1991 by Mark Garlick.
Poems copyright 1995 by Jenise Bushman Aminoff.

Mark is an artist and astronomer who lives and works in Sussex, England. Jenise, a New Mexico native, teaches science in Boston and is a graduate of the Clarion 1995 SF & F workshop.

Fat Man

National Atomic Museum, Sandia National Laboratories

Fat men don't belong in deserts.
All that extra insulation
deadly in this kind of July heat.
You'd think they'd think of that,
naming this uranium-laden desert
child. One heavy July thunderstorm beats
a march over our heads as we tour
aisle after aisle of nuclear heritage,
peering at photographs of mountain laboratories,
early models, experimental casings.
Before the replica, I feel
the physicist turn fat man inside me,
feel the sweat begin to bead on my forehead,
collect in my armpits and behind my knees,
start forth in flash floods down my limbs,
staining clothes and drenching conscience
until I have to run out into the rain
to keep from smelling admission on my skin
and tell myself,

I wouldn't have done it.
Wouldn't have.
Wouldn't have.

To: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

In truth, I do not know whether
this letter will reach you, as the journey
is both long and perilous. Still, I feel
I must attempt the sending. Even now
I reel in the shock of total understanding
of myself. It is enough to make me
question all my long years of experience,
each clue revealed, each footprint followed and
each case thus closed, these that were my life.

I, who always doubted the existence
of a Creator, find myself faced with one
not divine, but human, as I supposed myself
to be. My final recollection was
of facing the East Wind, of throwing in
my fate along with fellow Englishmen
in the Great War. Then a vast grayness seized
my memory, and I have risen out
of it as if from a long and dreamless sleep
to find myself as incorporeal.

Never before have I relied upon
my instincts alone, yet I must conclude
that somehow, through the ages since my birth
I have immersed myself into the minds
of countless of the faithful readers of
your eloquent pen, and in this grand collective,
taken on consciousness. I would never
have believed this if I had not already
met within this fictitious ether of minds
my brother characters, the Lord of Greystoke
who prefers his nom de guerre, Tarzan,
and Phineas Fogg, the esteemed traveler.

Of we three, Tarzan has been most accepting,
content to wander, mind to mind, in search
of Jane. Phineas, on the other hand,
is devastated by the modern knowledge
that there are no more mountains left to climb,
and modern travel makes his eighty days
seem like the merest triviality.

I, too, have been disturbed by modern knowledge.
That the Great War was by no means the end
to all wars, being followed by another
of such ferocity as to unleash
even the hideous fury of Nature herself,
indeed gave me great pause and terrible sorrow.
Yet, I am more unmade by the simple fact
that you, my creator, are dead and gone,
while I, mere character, live on and on.

Thus, I am compelled to write this correspondence
in the vain hopes that somehow, through the void,
my message may impinge upon your mind,
even as it is written at the hands
of an admirer whose mind is willing,
so that I may ask, sir, what became
of Watson, my dear companion, and why, sir,
you could not have made me a better

Best Regards, Sherlock Holmes


Your skin a landscape.
An old metaphor, I know,
but new perhaps to you.
A parched desert, your skin,
the topsoil contracting into scales
thirsty for water, a delicate network of cracks
exposing darker earth-skin
to the merciless different suns
you have walked beneath.

And your eyes, those hold a landscape
unto themselves, images
of a desert world called Home
in your rough-landslide tongue,
one eye for each of your moons,
irises waning and waxing within
mica-flecked sandstone skies.

And your palms, each of them maps
the track of your life. This one
holds your childhood, happy growth
on a world I'll never see. This one,
your days among the stars, worn smooth
by controls gripped tightly. This one holds
your present, outstretched to me,
open, and surrounded by claws.
And this last, the newly grown unfolding
bud, this will hold your future.
That one I would grasp as well,
joining my map to yours, teaching you
my landscape.

Back to the Planet's surface.