She pulls her legs up so her feet
are underneath her whole self
in a way that suggests
she isn’t going anywhere
and I think, ‘then it’s anybody’s guess.’
So I try, “they’ve made a robot who can mow the lawn,
two years and he’ll be serving every home.”
This is a piece of treasure
I discovered in the paper
sliced it out with my craft knife
and glued it in my savings book.
“Mmm…” she says and “…mmm?”
and this chorus line of seagulls scream:
What does some wretched robot mean
to this woman who looks fucking good in jeans
and anyway she hasn’t even got a lawn,
I fill our glasses up with wine
searching for a sultry line
to shift the conversation from machines.
“Smart Dust!” She finds the words
with such delight she shouts
and I slop a little down my front,
“tiny little chips that can communicate…”
“teeny-tiny – even smaller – and they’re everything!
They speak to the weather and dance with the wind
like a kind of techno-fied I-Ching.”
It’s all very exciting and the night is long.
Later, when she’s gone
and I’ve washed the lipstick from our rims
I look it up online and read,
‘we will have Smart Dust embedded in our skin,
it will keep us temperate and thin
and in control’
and I think, ‘when this is the basket
and when all the eggs are jumping in, where will I run?
When our whole world is coded
and decoded and recodified, where will I hide?’
And the romance of the evening has now died, of course,
I find myself in the mouth of every gift horse, seeking
confirmation that they come in peace.
She looked even better without her jeans,
But what’s the world without its mysteries?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Phoebe Smith lives in Island Bay and teaches children’s drama classes. She has written a number of plays for performance and recommends you hold your breath for work-in-progress, Apocalypse: The Musical.