Dinner With a Few Fellow Aliens

The poems of Miriam Hyman '21 find the otherworldly in nature.

By Miriam Hyman '21

Before she was a scientific copywriter at HDMZ, Miriam Hyman '21 spent her time at Kenyon immersed in biology and creative writing. A co-founder of the student-run science literary magazine Lyceum, where these poems first appeared, she now lives and works in Portland, OR. 


In Spring of 2021, a visiting scientist attended a dinner party with four alien representatives (although, as a visitor from another planet, the scientist was the only actual alien). While the creatures ate their meals, the scientist’s own hunger was satisfied by observing the guests and recording the observations in verse. The following poems were recovered from the briefcase that the scientist left open during our own dinner together. I first shared them over Zoom with my classmates in 'Animal Minds,' which was taught remotely that spring by Geetha Iyer. The poems were later published in Lyceum, Kenyon’s science literary magazine co-founded by yours truly. I hope that despite the peculiar perspective, you are able to identify a few of your fellow aliens.

- Miriam Hyman '21

Love To Death 

    Wisdom from the ancestors that number billions:
    Drill a hole in the New World to escape the Old River
    When soldiers threaten, wave friendly flags but
    Don’t dally. Wife is waiting in the liver.
    Find her. Envelop her. Give her the world
    Drop by drop. She will die in your arms. 
    Pray that she will bear many. 
    Not quite billions. 
    Pray, in the culling, a progeny
    Navigates the snaking intestine.
    Escapes through the sphincter.
    Reunites with Old River.
    Pray, before soldiers find you foe
    Or the world runs dry.
Eat the Sun 
    The sun will rise for breakfast, like it always does.
    I eat the air that light makes food,
    And exhale the waste that leggeds breathe, frenzied
    By their limbs and restless tongues.  
    My world is still 
    Soil and sky.
    Sometimes the mushrooms whisper, “more.”
    But there is no need to be greedy.
    It is excitement enough to taste my sister’s pain in the air
    A flesh wound, but she’ll regenerate
Plagiarize the Song 
    The mind of my mind is not mine
    We are ours.
    Our melody traced to the beetle I’ve found dead.
    Our meal to clasp in my mandibles.
    Our weight to balance on each bowing blade of grass.
    Returning with our dinner, I’m alone.
    I, and the beetle I carry,
    Discover the senseless cloak over the earth.
    It is not ours. All blue and white checkers. No pheromones. 
    Not ours - but our danger.
    It descends as blackness, eclipses our sky. 
    I drop our dinner. Call panic. 
    Fear is her last scent.
    It emanates from her carcass. Even in death, which is just hers,
    Life is ours.
    We smell her shriek, chorus the single, acrid note,
    Trace a new melody home.
    Our beetles are delicious. 
Play with Your Food 
    My arms clung to think
    My skin felt to see
    Eight tentacles, not mine. 
    Before I bit, I tossed and toyed.
    A meal’s meant to be enjoyed.
    Laughing water, grinning white
    I dined on cannibal’s delight.

"Love to Death" - blood fluke; "Eat the Sun" - plant; "Plagiarize the Song" - ant; "Play With Your Food" - octopus