First Probe

Barry Ballard
When the earth is tempered, compressed and cooled
in the heavens like something somber
and inanimate, I wonder if we'll
be photographed, our spectrum smudged and framed
on someone's laboratory floor, each hue
of color speaking of how we were conquered
by our own base elements. They'd peel
back the layers, speculate about the chain

of our history, if it was sung
or written, if their probes could still find it
in the chipped palms of our carbon fists, carrying
off the frozen samples where the small sum
of our "soul of ideas" would be cupped
like breathing ashes in their stainless steel hands.