The Earthlings arrived unannounced, entered
without knocking, removed their shoes 
and began clipping their toenails. 
They let the clippings fall wherever.  
They sighed loudly as if inconvenienced.
We were patient. We knew our guests
were in an unfamiliar environment; they needed 
time to adjust. For dinner, we prepared
turkey meatloaf with a side of cauliflower. 
This is too dry, they said.
This is not like what our mothers made. 
We wanted to offer a tour of our world, 
demonstrate how we freed ourselves 
from the prisons of linear time.
But the Earthlings were already spelunking 
our closets, prying tools 
from their containers and holding them 
to the light. What’s this? they demanded.
What’s this? What’s this? And what’s this?
That’s a Quantum Annihilator; put that down.
That’s a Particle Grinder; please put that down.  
We could show you how to heal the sick, we said.
We could help you feed every nation, commune 
with the all-seeing sentient energy that palpitates 
through all known forms of matter. 
Nah! they said. Teach us to vaporize a mountain! 
Teach us to turn the moon into revenue! 
Then the Earthlings 
left a faucet running and flooded our basement.

Copyright © 2023 by Matthew Olzmann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 17, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.