The Automaton to Her Engineer1 min read


Alexandra Seidel
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My gears run smooth no more.
They bite into each other like a crone’s teeth
bite the apple’s flesh, like fingers of a dead man bite
the living air.

Soon my gears will be stuck, metal to metal and
no room left for the winding,
no key that could move these parts,
no hammer to shake them,
no chain to tear these bolts,
just the furnace bleeding like rust.

I leak, too. Oil to keep me moving,
the lubricant-golemspell that tickles my throat:
it moves away from within me
like amniotic breath
and all my movement goes with it,
flees the absence of hydraulic pressure.

There is air in my belly and in the tubes that are my chest,
and there should be no air; I have no breath.
The air though gives me thoughts of butterflies,
an overused metaphor, a wish silly as a loosened joint screw.

So. This is the sum of my errors, a tally of kinks.

Unscrew my copperskin and look inside me.
Find my faults and—gear for gear, screw for screw—
take apart the whole and take
the stuck and grind away.

Reassembled, I will not be perfect.
Reassembled, my gears will still have noise
Reassembled I, and all my parts like words unborn from breath between us:
my unfailing engine keeper.

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