Proteus is a prototype human (beta release) living in Gondwanaland in the Jurassic era. Part one is here.
As it happened, Proteus could not speak with sounds:
when he opened his mouth and set his throat to vibrate,
glowing bubbles, leafy baubles, necklaced seeds,
a myriad of elemental protozoan shapes,
floated from his lips, sparking, drifting through the trees.
This is the untold tale of Proteus,
the legendary beta man,
the greatest and only scientist of the Jurassic,
friend to the tasteless simpsonodon
and the slightly feathered archaeopteryx,
as bearded as da Vinci,
and in whose hair,
a flickering of iridescent wings,
mostly still attached to dragonflies,
glittered in the sunlight.
This is what Jandira told me—
The invisibilities will ascend from ground and green,
from fields of stubbled corn and furrowed dirt,
from the Amazonic jungle
through the tree lines to the turbulence above.
Now I’m perched in a jacaranda,
and set to fade like Carroll’s cat, the great auk and the dodo,
with my telescope trained on the far horizon
where the welded night’s creation is rising with the dawn.
The goddess of start-ups had been rather careless.
To correct her mistake, she wiped out the hominids
with a meteor strike, and resolved to pay
Her very first effort had begun quite well—
the axolotls were amusing, there was
no doubting that, and mother nature
turned up to admire them too.
‘Lighter than Claire’ has appeared in the summer (north of the equator) edition of the Colored Lens and is available at Amazon. It’s also freely available online. The story has various sources—a plate of pasta, ‘Mambo Italiano’ by Flabby and Carla Boni (playing while I was writing), Philip K. Dick’s “A Scanner Darkly,” and the evolution of the species, at least the way it works in my imagination.¹ Continue reading