Mama said my birth was all regret.
Said she'd rather end the line herself than some company.
But, bodies let you down.
Right before her clock stilled
Mama squinted at the sparrows,
plummeting in twos and threes from the rusted out sky,
and she said not to turn silver.
Said I'd get more pleasure being the color of apricots.
It was hard to believe such things
when her own bruised fruit tremored with the sick,
just a few suspended seconds of spit and spray,
before her hand dropped away from mine.
I stayed close to the trees Mama planted
like she said to do.
Thumbed the thick ooze of yellow rain beaded on glass
and breathed in their fading green.
Still, I knew.
And she knew.
The withering would take them too.
Mama said it'd be hard to stop
the putting of pen to paper.
Said hope was as close to sinning as you could get.
Mama said and she said and her words were pregnant with a
Flesh is a sin too.
That's what they said.
And I was one of the last sinners.
Feeling the feelings.
As many feelings as a body can stand
before it lets you down.
that pioneer outward.
Gatherers of last breaths.
And there it is blooming.
Sweet smell of rotting sick
like pineapple syrup from a can,
with an undertone of aluminum.
A flavor note
appearing right when the brochure said it would.
Electrodes make the skin jump,
signaling I'm still alive
for four more days by their estimate.
Eyes skitter left and right,
tracking shoes bone-white and always moving
above my hydro tank
where I rest on the surface
like a water strider.
It is too hard to keep this pace.
I let the soft sucking sounds of the tubes lull me,
dropping as they do
to wriggle along this ruined body,
basting it in a little more mercury.
I tell myself,
never mind these cracked, bleeding lips
and burning throat.
They will vanish in the last stage of transformation.
When all becomes metal,
from toes to tummy to tongue,
and I end the line.
Now I walk with the fireflies,
fluid the very same neon
slowly pumping to all my parts.
Moonshine is all my metal can manage.
A detail left for the fine print.
I scrape and squeak through the browning reeds,
a few steps behind the others,
on our nightly pilgrimage to the company men.
In their white jumpsuits and elephantine masks,
they toil in the old factories.
Hoses tossed over shoulders like ties at long ago meals,
fixing us up so we can continue
in our clean-up crews stretching the waterways.
Praying for a day when the lines will start again.
And I wonder about this second chance they sold
as the crabs click clack like cutlery against me.
I wonder what I am now and what I ever was.
After all, there is no heart, no skin to touch.
Only viscous liquid,
cog wheels and springs,
and hammered steel plating
immune to tarnish.
Mama said I'd turn and turn
until recognition failed.
Said she'd never know me
when she sat perched and peeking
from the big beyond.
And I wonder what I ever will be now.
Laboring like this at a drowning depth
in the backwater bayous.
Paying the payment I signed for
when I left my flesh behind.