On this star’s third planet, we chanced
on a stone structure submerged half in sand.
A monument to the ascendant species,
now dead ten million sunsets since.
A center of erudition or refreshment, perhaps,
built by the planet’s primates.
We knew not its name or purpose.
Bodies mummified by desert air,
remained in the monument,
arms resting on tables.
Flat instruments, electronic in nature, bearing small
windows that once displayed symbols, images,
lay clutched at the occupants’ arm ends.
Was exchange of emotions or thought
feasible only through these devices?
Anatomical dissection may disclose
other means of communication.
Curious containers of ceramic or crystal,
once holding water or other fluids
for sustenance, shared tabletop space.
Probing the planetary crust revealed water
copiously covered the whole world
before it became barren twenty-seven
thousand stellar orbits ago, when gases
of carbon caused climates to heat,
oceans to eventually evaporate.
Wild winds now encircle the world,
one moment masking,
the next, exposing,
the enduring monument.
Yet we pondered its purpose.
Before forsaking that shocking shrine,
a stormy squall swerved,
sweeping sand from the structure’s scoured surface.
Now standing naked, it showed us its name
in archaic icons: Starbucks.