This poem came from the April 3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from siege, morrigans_eve, and lb_lee. The challenge was to describe a world in which materials such as clay and glass would be the most natural choices for technology to develop. So here it is, claypunk as fairly hard science fiction. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony and Shirley Barrette.
The seas boiled and fumed
beneath a lucent sun,
oceans of acid foaming at the sky.
All that was metal or reactive stone
the acid seas tore asunder;
all that might have become
the soft flesh of organic matter
was dissolved into its component atoms.
Only acid there was, and air,
and the silken dust of clay
that lay in supple folds upon the crust.
Yet life always finds a way;
not carbon but silicon
coiled itself into quickened spirals.
Life spawned and flourished and grew,
became curious and desired tools.
Silt there was, and sand:
the makings of ceramic,
the makings of glass.
Life made kilns and forges,
patted and pulled at the wet clay,
spun crystal to harness
the burning power of the sun.
When the human starship soared past,
it detected no organic compounds,
no intricate dance of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen.
There were no straight lines to be noticed,
only sleek curving slopes of ceramic and crystal.
They saw only the acid, the air, the inorganic materials
and so they went their way, describing the planet
as having "rigorous chemical conditions"
and nothing of particular interest.
Far below, life looked up and saw
a star moving as no star had ever moved,
quick and brilliant as a spark flitting in the night,
and began to wonder.