We searched the whole world, but found
no remaining life. They must have gone
extinct just before our arrival: linens still dangled
on clotheslines; coffeepots and reactors
were still hot. Besides household furnishings
and appliances and small collapsing mounds
of ashes, the only trace left was an array of symbols
on every available surface—recently painted
with blood and sgraffitoed with shards of bone.
No context was left for interpretation;
every document had been burned. Maybe
those unknown motifs were meant as a challenge,
like fossils impossibly imprinted into igneous rock.
Perhaps only a signature.
F.J. Bergmann edits poetry for Star*Line, the journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association (sfpoetry.com) and Mobius: The Journal of Social Change (mobiusmagazine.com), and imagines tragedies on exoplanets and elsewhere.