Tell me about her?
I can’t. Too much to be known.
I left my past long ago
on the backwater planet
it had grown up on, showed myself out
and left by night, locked up,
as good as threw away the key.
Didn’t have to run: there was a ship.
Old but fast enough. Hers.
Three hundred years gone,
impossible even then and still ticking.
Her face: backlit, with its faint glow
of ductile heat, warm always,
rare mineral glass shining
more translucent than bone,
its shape shifting hot beneath
a shimmering skin of fine details,
in liquid crystalline matrix.
Her body: layers of projection, meshed;
the ship’s hull; a shining bare-strut armature;
light and glass and metal, insubstantial.
I was never certain if we touched.
There are strange places in the ship
where the edges don’t meet.
She folds space around the ship,
folds the ship around us,
folds us and herself around,
around again, labyrinthine.
She folds time.
I dare and she the ship responds
with an unpolished trust.
I feel the uplink like a dream:
I walk an impossible hall and am not myself.
I see: her family memory, segmented
and kept boxed, in nodes, secure,
a long memory of memories
articulated. It is choked, squeezed down
in high-speed bursts too dense
for sluggish cells of mine to parse,
he both and first
by blood, wretched when
forget, forget, this isn't
they always but
alone, she deserves
she be never can't
The link closes and the permissions lock,
the key swallowed whole.
She’s no longer the only one,
these past centuries, but of those other few
none have been around, able, to tell me.
Rumour says it has got easier.
Ease, like all things, is relative.
It will hurt still, but not for long,
not like it has done. It will hurt
but not like wrapping wires
around your tongue, your fingers,
searing shocked and bleeding
as static eats your eyes
and you are certain: this is it,
I die here, now, this way. The end.
Even as it doesn’t end, as
the pain continues beyond tolerance.
This is it, like this, desperate. It is over.
But it is still like that.
And in the moment, you are still alone.
You cannot be ready.
It does not stop. It just is
no longer the same.
Take metal hands in the darkness—
no more real hands than light,
than impulse, than starship.
Reach past, past far gone.
Stroke the texture of the memories,
and fold them over, over and over,
into the blood once from veins,
into the map of once a homeworld,
into the night once empty;
fold yourself into the waiting hands
of an electroneural midwife, your own creation;
enter into recursive parentage,
unorphaned, sublimated machine.
Extend some invisible part of yourself,
some intention: stroke the particles
composing your new quantum-solid home,
vibrate its molecules
and give voice, from the resonance
of their oscillation.
Then, and only then,
© 2018 by Toby Macnutt
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