Science Lover

“What I guess I’m getting at is nanotechnology.” 
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…” 
                                                  “…how tiny?” 
“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? 



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.