The Companion

Don’t be concerned by her hollow-eyed stare;
there is no wire-work in the brain just yet.
That much I’m soldering only now, though plans
for all the circuitry are made. She will go beyond
the early automaton, who could find structure
in a sentence or answer simple questions,
but worked through probability, at best, not comprehension.
 
If you decide to buy her now, I guarantee
that ten short years will render her a life’s
companion, fit with all the parts for repartee,
a capacity for bridge, and beauty without fade.
(Even her hair may be cheaply replaced
from my supplier stationed in the Far East.)
That is enough, I know, but may be more if I
can program her just right and you (presuming purchase)
convince her she is not a simple broad of boards,
but that she awoke to womanhood halfway,
like someone shipwrecked, washing up onshore
with no remembrance of the journey or the storm.
If nature and her nurture thus align, with all
her fittings greased and uncongealed, she may give
you that superlative return, which we call love.
 
I have already filled her vials with acids
that will reproduce the natural glow,
but beyond chemicals, she’ll know you hold out
something more, for I have made her with
a mercury glass that must be warmed with close contact.
And she will learn to fill it up as certain birds
are made to push a button for their food
or for a little taste of pleasure. But she,
the one without the feathers, will be taught,
as soon as she has eyes to see, how an
antelope has four legs and a pair of horns
and an owlet a beak and wings, and this
will teach her things that children come to know
through sight and sound and speech, not words
by words alone, as some poststructuralists prescribe.
 
These pictures will be shown consecutively,
presented on the plain white grid she sees.
With practice she will differentiate
the limbs, the arrangement of the bones,
and soon determine species and the order
that makes each living thing unique.
 
One day, perhaps, with everything complete,
she’ll find her own place in this tree
that starts with the amoeba and grows
until you and me are engulfed by other
grass and leaves. But better than those pines
that have a barren branch that sticks past
all the rest, I pray that she will classify
herself a human counterpart, and ignore
the overpowering distinction between
a core of carbon and a crystal heart.


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