“Elise as Android at the Japan! Culture + Hyperculture Festival” by Rebecca Hazelton

Rebecca Hazelton


It takes three men to hoist me
         to the platform, a fourth to hide the cables
                                    juicing this endeavor,
and during sound check my engineer
                           cradles my head, smoothes my hair,
rearranges the folded cloth of my peach kimono,
                  tightens the obi with screen-printed
                                    forest scene—
and when he whispers, You’re perfect, I blush
                                    as best I’m able,
                           and he presses my check, kisses the springy
                                    cush of my false skin.

At first, the audience is shy, only asks me basic questions—
                           no compound clauses,
                  and I’m witty, I’m a lovely
                           hostess, I even tell a joke
                                    about robots and chickens!
I move in stylized increments, tiny steps that mimic
         the audience’s idea of a geisha,
as does my white lacquer skin,
                  siliconed to a velvet cream sheen,
It is all very careful, the awkward
                           presented as beauty,
                                    and I am beautiful, awkward
                           that is.

They grow bolder, the questions more complex,

                           Where do you see yourself in five years?
                           Why does the mother spider eat all her babies?
                           What’s prettier—a girl with a fresh bruise or a bucket
                           of water?
I stutter,
         Can you repeat the question?
And they smile, not wide like mine, but tight, satisfied,
                           I’m afraid I don’t understand, I say, again,
and the spectators point
                           out my hairline as a giveaway,
                                    the sway when I talk,
shudder at the horror show, her poreless skin, perfect
                           like a pig’s.

from Rattle #38, Winter 2012
Tribute to Speculative Poetry

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