Martian Museum

Yuliia Vereta

Martian Museum

Here’s a stuffed blue whale
converted into a fine museum.
It’s got all of Mother Earth in it,
from beginning to the very end.

Dinosaur bones, mounds of snow,
the heads of astronauts in alcohol…
Stuffed octopuses, transparent eyes,
oil reservoirs and desert sands.

The generals of the five galactic wars
stand in iron boots, kneeling the Mind—
diamonds shine in every pore of their skin,
the stain of burnt coal hides from nostrils.

Incense and church singing
fill the multi-chambered hollow fish,
reflecting the life that once happened
before the gamma-ray had burst all
        its species.


Yuliia Vereta is a Polish writer of Ukrainian origin, whose speculative works were published in print and online among others in Star*Line, Dreams and Nightmares, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Solarpunk, Utopia Science Fiction, Leading Edge, Penumbric, Kaleidotrope, ParSec and Aphelion. She holds an M.A. in Translation and currently works as a translator in Katowice. 

Backstory: I first thought of an idea of “placing” a Martian museum in an animal body at the art exhibition of Damian Hirst. I believe it was his work “Some comfort gained from the acceptance of the inherent lies in everything” that inspired me. While the blue whale is the biggest mammal living on Earth and is also the largest animal to have ever existed, that’s why I see it as the best vessel for my purpose of placing a museum inside of it.

Concerning crafting, all the elements in the poem (those placed in the Museum) carry symbolic meaning as well as the whale itself. The stuffed blue whale represents the vastness of Earth’s oceans, while dinosaur bones and astronaut heads in alcohol symbolize different eras of Earth’s history, oil reservoirs and desert sands show how rich the Earth was, and the church singing is the component that shows there was something more than just rich soil, minerals and species—a spiritual side. 

Apart from the symbolism there is a place for contrasts here. The poem juxtaposes natural elements like snow and living beings like octopuses with man-made artifacts such as oil reservoirs. This contrast highlights the coexistence of the natural world and human impact. The mention of generals of galactic wars kneeling creates an ironic image. It suggests the destructive power of humanity and its consequences in the grand cosmic order.

Editor’s Notes & Image Credit: The image of a Blue Whale (whale model by Damian Hirst) is centered in an abstract light effect from a supernova explosion (

Learn more about the artist who constructed the Blue Whale model and his other art exhibitions:


This entry was posted in Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *