They Came in One Huge Wave

Zebulon Huset

They Came in One Huge Wave

Like a susurration of starlings
the alien ships swirled across the sky
in intricate patterns, close as bumbling
bees swarming yet never colliding.
Our planes weren’t destroyed, but avoided
by the beetle-looking crafts the size of jet skis.
Their elegant dance practically predictive—
before our pilots could release the trigger
they were through and past the thrusters.
They clustered, then dispersed and each dove
into the ground and disappeared like moles
instantly wiggling miles down—the loosened soil
settling behind like slush from an ice augur
bobbing in the newly bored holes.
Our farmers kept farming, millers milled,
waiters resisted the urge to spit in cups
of steaming coffee and the military brass
scrambled to divine out some sort of plan.
But the burrowers waited for no human,
whether drones or driven by some
little green man or bug or a greater
consciousness tuned into a wavelength
creating hivemind chimeras set only
on swarming and digging and waiting.
But a day after their sudden cloud cover
and precipitation they uprooted—unearthed
and vamoosed. Scientists and men in black
from this or that acronym are still studying
the remaining boreholes, though most
collapsed onto themselves when the crafts
squeezed out like a pearl forced from
the sickly clam’s flesh. Popped zits
or topical parasites—depending upon
which ‘expert’ you talked to. The mineral
or resource or essence they stole—if anything,
has yet to be missed. That mysterious
Schrodinger-substance either an appendix—
vestigial and superfluous; or a necessary
redundancy—a faulty second kidney
just waiting for the first failsafe to trip.

Zebulon Huset is a teacher, writer and photographer. He won the Gulf Stream 2020 Summer Poetry Contest and his writing has appeared in Best New Poets, Apex Magazine, Gone Lawn, North American Review, New York Quarterly, The Southern Review, Fence and many others. He publishes the prompt blog Notebooking Daily, and edits the journal Coastal Shelf.

Author’s Backstory: Many people imagine first contact being a sort of ambassadorship or invasion, which it may prove to be, but what might be more likely is that humanity will be seen as just additional fauna of the planet with resources to extract. This poem examines one possible way that sort of first contact might play out, with a combination of indifference and precision–leaving us more mysteries than answers.

Editor’s Notes and/or Image Credit: The close-up of a beetle-like spacecraft, which was fashioned from a black insect silhouette [] and wings [], is representative of the invading swarm [].

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