The invading alien paints himself in ashes
thinking to render himself invisible
to the olfactory senses of the Terrans
unclear on human reliance on vision and machines.

Warriors laugh at the ease
with which they apprehended
a race from beyond our solar system
and reputed to be advanced beyond human ken.

Interrogation experts go to work
trying to pry out the alien’s secrets,
linguists parse his spoken language
unaware that most of the meaning is in odors.

From behind steel prison walls
the alien sings of its civilization’s greatness
and it could thrill our souls
with the epics of its culture.

But Terrans cannot smell the delicate scents
by which it shares the heart of its soul
for they do not know how to read and sing
through their noses or the cells of their skins.

They can only wonder at why the alien is crying.

—Scott E. Green & Herb Kauderer