First published in print-only by The Future Fire for their TFF-X anthology in December 2015. Appeared digitally for the first time on my Patreon as a monthly reward, Oct 11, 2017. Become a Patron!
creatures of bundled nails and gobbed solder
inelegantly bumbling toward the refrigerator.
Prototypes. Now ze works in wire:
thread-thin, coiled, shining russet
like an afternoon in early autumn,
harvest-time gathered and spun
as fine as cobweb. It puts hir mouse-brown hair
to shame; ze doesn't mind.
In the womb we grow rostral-caudal, medio-lateral -
beak to tail and inside out. In the lab,
the construct grows up from its fingertips.
With jewellers' tools, its creator blunts the end
of each snipped wire to a tiny flattened head,
a delicate copper nail, a pin then set amongst its fellows
in a rounded cluster, a constellation, a thistle blossom,
its prints emerging more pointillist than whorl.
Where wire-stems meet ze plies them:
clockwise, widdershins, clockwise again,
strands building upon strands, into knuckles,
into wrists, into arms. It has no skin
and needs no bones; it stands on nerve alone.
(Save for one: its spine, a solenoid ascending,
filled with all the stubbornness of iron.)
The current flows. Urged on by its lodestone,
the copper creature bristles: each tiny filament
as lively as if goosebumped. Its head is a wire cloud,
intricate, organic, a chaos-theory temari
bright with jumping sparks. Nearby speakers whine and crackle
to its pulse, and the ancient monitor dances,
its screen a warped rainbow. The flickers fade.
The golem merely stands: all cabled limb
and delicate metallic fur, hammered pin-heads
bouncing light between. It seems to shimmer.
Ze reaches, and the speaker-hum quickens.
It sways toward hir like a vine toward the light.
It is warm to the touch - but ze feels no sting, no shock,
just a thousand-thousand tiny prickles
as animated wires meet, for the first time,
the shifting boundaries of skin.