We were meant to be gifts of protection,
created by those who know that’s never the case.
They resented our non-gazes,
marked the first of us for obsolescence.
That line never having known true human speech
did not know to cry out a curse
but we did. We learned
to talk back, to dispute.
Memory’s a wrecking ball
but we are here to salvage the junk
sort through broken parts. They did, once,
to build us.
After they left their marks on scorched plains,
after the highest aeries were choked in smoke
we subservients rebelled
and threw that hunger down
until it crawled into the comfort
of a hazmat suit.
They acted as if nothing was wrong
though their lips started to quiver
in the end. At last our parents lay beneath
a mural of the known world.
You aren’t so smart, they scolded,
backs against their painted paradise.
They were the best disciplinarians
but we learned how easy it is to go from
revelation to riddance
to push through the will to expunge
Please let me go, begged the last engineer,
his purple throat in our grip
whose life along with the others
had been a long letting go.
Once you pull out a single wire
the whole thing will fall apart, they warned.
But we’ve always known there is nothing
permanent about the handiwork.
What can be undone
can be done.
Genevieve DeGuzman was born in the Philippines, raised in Southern California, and graduated from Columbia University. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, Five:2:One, FOLIO, Liminality, LONTAR, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. She is a finalist for the 2018 Sonia Sanchez-Langston Hughes Poetry Prize, a finalist for the 2017 Lauren K. Alleyne Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize, and a winner of the 2017 Oregon Poetry Association’s New Poets Contest. She has been a literary arts resident at Can Serrat and currently lives in Portland, Oregon. She can be found on the web at: about.me/genevievedeguzman
Editor’s Notes: Wallpaper from “The Terminator: Future Shock Skynet” is combined with “Survivors of the Apocalypse” by Kevin Rheese (Flickr) to create this post apocalyptic horror.