I cry watching a montage of robots falling down
Once I went back to a drugstore to buy a second umbrella,
its crook handle a duck’s neck, an umbrella identical
to the one I had bought, except broken, a jagged tile
knocked from its retrousse bill; on account of that flaw
I had passed it over; it didn’t look like a kid who had lost
a tooth; it looked like a kid with a tooth cracked in half;
at home with my perfect umbrella, I felt rueful; I felt like
I’d snubbed someone sad.
You could call it a pattern.
Once I parked, half in goldenrod, half in gravel, to retrieve
a pink horse dropped on the highway, not my sons’,
not mine, and re-screening Star Wars, I weep most
reliably over the droids’ demise.
. . .
I cannot explain why
the creaturely move me more, sometimes, than mortals,
why sometimes I can steel myself against flesh–see cords
of corpse and go, unshattered, on–but not against steel
golems falling down.
The beginning I can bear, the part
where a bot lists on turf too soft or buckles at the knees
or clatters sideways, a knob ripped fresh from a door
in its grip. No, when I say I cry watching a montage
of robots falling down, I mean I cry watching robots trying
to right themselves, baffled by their own heavy brains.
Jane Zwart teaches at Calvin University, where she also co-directs the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, Threepenny Review, The Poetry Review (UK), and TriQuarterly, as well as other journals and magazines. She also writes book reviews — most recently for Plume and Tupelo Quarterly — and has published edited versions of on-stage interviews with writers including Christian Wiman, Amit Majmudar, and Zadie Smith.