When I study you
I cannot find
of rational mind
inside your lovely head.
you repeat, as if by rote,
what you read
that others said.
Our lunch is orange goo,
described as stew,
and a stranger reads aloud in Latin
while we eat
and fail to recognise
more than one word in twenty,
for lack of a classical education.
We are technical people,
creators of robots
and advanced devices,
confined in what seems to be a monastery,
working on portions of a special plan,
unable to identify the whole.
Andy, our best brain,
suspects we’re building them a mind bomb.
I’m polishing my halo, checking my wings for loose feathers, then flying over to the shopping centre for another shift assisting Brother Gravitas with his tireless mission to frighten folk back to church, using shock vocabulary, like Guilt, Sin, Damnation, Hell etc etc.
My job is performing signs and wonders to show a positive side to his terrifying call for repentance. I represent heavenly joy, eternal bliss and so on.
Brother Gravitas obviously loves his work, but for me it’s a thankless task. In the six months since I began this assignment not a single one of the thousands who visit the centre every day has shown any interest in repenting or headed over to the mouldering church building to find out more.
Sure, they enjoy watching the signs and wonders and listening to Brother Gravitas ranting and raving. But once is enough for nearly everyone. As you’d expect, there are a few who turn up regularly to bait Brother Gravitas and make fun of me.
In fact, we’re just a couple of characters in a large cast of street entertainers, peripheral to the really important business of shopping. No one cares about salvation.
I’ve got two more months on this assignment and then I’ll be posted to something else. It’s unlikely I’ll have any choice as to what it will be.
I sent a text to my memory,
to the dedicated team who work there
tirelessly filing and retrieving, 24/7.
I don’t know their names.
I don’t pay them wages.
I take them for granted.
If I could I’d drop by and thank them face to face,
have a tour of their workplace,
but I don’t know how to get there.
If I could I’d treat them to a big night out –
drinks, slap-up meal, maybe a club –
but I don’t know how to fix it.
So I sent them this message:
Many thanks for all you do.
I totally rely on you.
And they replied: Thanks, Boss, for those kind words.
We love the job we do.
Being a vital part of you is our reward xx.
Wanting a pet,
I bought an easycare robotic dog,
called him Montague, after my late father,
Monty, for short.
We went for long walks on the Downs
every day at dawn.
He learnt to speak,
thanks to some clever software.
His first words were: ‘Love you loads’,
then he suggested we discuss Hegel.
I said ‘Let’s make it Plato’,
and we settled for Kant.
Now Monty’s writing a book on metacognition
prefers to go for walks alone
and doesn’t have much time for me.
So I’ve ordered an easycare robotic cat
to fill the empty space.