Chemical Rebalance for Young Cyborg Housewives
by Mahaila Smith
(This poem is best viewed on a PC)
The woman stares at the pillbox of pearls beside her bed.
She takes it in her hand, shakes out a few into her palm
then strings a necklace. She clasps it behind her neck.
She strings the chain between her fingers,
each pearl holding liquid that changes the moment
and her surroundings. She puts down the string.
She stands again and dries white dinner plates
with a pink-checkered dish towel.
She beats egg whites indeterminately and
flames meringue. She lies down on the La-Z-Boy.
Her husband comes home and she follows into the bedroom
where he scrolls through images of automated bodies,
puts his tablet under his pillow, and falls asleep.
She puts a pearl in her mouth and bites.
Her face grows little hairs and long antennae.
Her body shrinks, back growing luminescent green.
She transforms into a Luna moth
and flies directly out the bedroom window.
The transformation is a relief for her joints,
through her spine. Gravity no longer applies.
She flies under the streetlights in the park,
onto the shoulder of man-eating nasturtiums.
He offers her a sip. She flies up to the
university’s botanical garden and looks
through to butterflies and praying mantises.
She continues on to the Robotics department.
Inside is a parliament of small birds, winged insects,
each wearing miniature beaded necklaces.
Each takes a bead into their mouth
and resumes their human forms.
They turn on their robot kin
at the back of the storage space.
Everyone gives tight hugs and warm kisses.
They catch each other up on news
of women’s shelters that have been boarded up,
boarding schools swallowing more kids,
community gardens sprouting young bean pods.
They gather tightly to discuss a plan.
Android networks have studied
the cybernetic systems of the State,
which ones they should shut off, which matter.
Women whisper intel learned from flights over cities.
They celebrate and comfort one another,
they share art and survival skills
and new pearl beads, rattling in prescription bottles.
Mahaila Smith (any pronouns) is a young femme writer living and working on the traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg in Ottawa, Ontario. They are co-editor for The Sprawl Magazine (thesprawlmag.ca). They like learning theory and writing spec poetry. Their debut chapbook, Claw Machine, was published by Anstruther Press in 2020. You can find more of their work on their website: mahailasmith.ca.