The Martian Anthropologist Weighs In
After Craig Raine


They pick it up each time it cries
the tiny creature calms right down
and tickle it from foot to crown
or murmur doting lullabies.

It travels with them everywhere,
indoors and out, at home, on trips,
pressed snugly to their breasts or hips.
(If it got lost, theyd have a scare!)

By day, its face keeps them beguiled.
By night, they seldom sleep apart.
Oh, how it animates my heart
to see these humans with a child

until its one or maybe two,
and then, of course, you know the score:
They take it to the Apple Store
to trade it in for someone new.


Ive seen the females smearing cream or powder
beige, pink, gray, brown and shades a good deal louder
across their skin, from brow to chin.
Its often very dear for them to buy.
No matter how adroitly it is used,
it tends to leave them looking slapped or bruised
(if bruises flaked, rubbed off and caked),
yet many wear it daily till they die
and afterward. (As soon as they are gone,
attendants always seem to spread more on.)
Someday, I vow, Ill fathom how,
instead of having sex or eating pie,
or harnessing their vast creative powers,
they choose this way to spend a thousand hours.
(And maybe then Ill ponder men,
who waste their time on something called a tie.)

Melissa Balmain

If you have any comments on this poem, Melissa Balmain would be pleased to hear from you.