Even though we live underground,
in houses of dirt, we do
not couple like mandrake roots or voles;
nor are we like
our above-ground counterparts,
the perfumed Eloi,
with their paedorific delicacy
and twee lust.
Ours is a cleaner, more savage, rut
with only one set of rules:
under no circumstances are we
allowed to utter words
of tenderness, passion, or regret.
Only the act itself must be given voice.
Only the darker world below must blush.
Beasts, it is said, do not compose sonatas;
nevertheless, there remains
for a brief while
a sonorous chaos in our troglodyte hearts—
and then in a final act of ritual, we
rise from our bed of dirt,
ascending to the surface, selecting,
from among our chattel,
a child most like the one we hope
to have conceived.
As we break our nuptial fast, its starcries
fulfill the first of several needs.
Robert Borski’s fiction has appeared in Analog and F&SF, and he is the author of two books about Gene Wolfe. After decades of procrastination he decided to write some poetry in 2006 and the results will soon be seen in Strange Horizons, Star*line, and The Magazine of Speculative Poetry.
H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine was an early favorite of mine, but I always felt the Morlocks were overly brutalized. They are, after all, descendents of the working class, and while “love” as we understand it, may no longer transform their lives, surely, even if only in service of propagating the species, vestigial glimmers of the emotion still exist among them. Hence the poem.