ELISE AS ANDROID AT THE JAPAN! CULTURE + HYPERCULTURE FESTIVAL
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
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
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
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
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