“Life on Earth” by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Raquel Vasquez Gilliland


My mother doesn’t believe in aliens,
says the only world God whipped up
is this one, these people, this cup
of instant coffee, this concrete house.
God works in mysteries, Mom says
when we discuss star signals from
94 light years away. If that hum
were from something fleshed,
limbed, someone reaching out
to touch us. The ensuing rush
to present a polished humanity.
But I say if aliens are looking,
from this strum in the dark
or anywhere else. Let them
look at my mom. At her tiny
hands with wide nails, her grey
roots, her bible, so worn its
pages are now paper skeletons.
See her cramped kitchen,
the arroz con pollo steamed
on the last working burner,
flavored with bell peppers
and onions, garlic and bone.
See her over strawberry
sundaes with the neighbors,
Luz and Delores. In her yard,
the white orchids clung
to palm trees and jasmine.
How she speaks to them.
Let them into St. Luke’s
as she signs the cross.
As she prays to Jesus
for grace. As she lights
Mother Maria’s candle
for her children. Here
is life on Earth.

Poets Respond
September 4, 2016

[download audio]


Raquel Vasquez Gilliland: “This week, I read that a Russian telescope detected a strong signal from sun-like star HD 164595. Though unlikely to be from aliens, I considered how we might introduce ourselves to an extraterrestrial civilization.” (website)

Rattle Logo