5% Human, 95% Machine

Shimmering steel and glass reach up as far as the eye can see,

to cut a jigsaw pattern against the dreary morning sky.

There are people suspended in these buildings,

talking a hundred words a minute without a breath wasted,

always glancing at the clock to regulate their mouth economy.

They are pale and have rouged lips that stretch across their giant teeth.

Laughter escapes from their mouths like bubbles from the soda can I snap open.

Suits pressed, skins pressed, smiles pressed.

They are nothing short of perfection.

 

Where do I fit in all of this?

 

I am six and I am both terrified and fascinated by these specimens.

One glides over to me, hovering in wonderfully curved shoes

that pinch the hosiery at her toes and ankles.

Her rotund calves float like balloons above her little feet

only to disappear into the sky blue hem of her dress.

She leans her powdered nose close to mine and pinches my face with her lacquered nails

pleased laughter bubbling from her orange lips.

I think she asked me if I liked the drink and if it was cold enough,

but her words move too quickly for me to catch them.

She stops her smiling as abruptly as she began

only to retreat back to the water cooler and leave me to the solitude of my thoughts.

 

Where have I gone?

 

I am eleven and I am lost in the layers of my clothing.

The buildings are frozen rigid by the howling winter winds

but they stand above me as tall and stoic as they always do.

There is an inexplicable chill to the city

that cannot simply be measured by thermostats we have,

the puffs of cold that escape our lips

or by the many layers we wear.

I brush shoulders with people that are miles away,

wandering through their own thoughts and complications

beneath the sunglasses and mufflers that obscure their faces.

If a touch could establish instant connection with these faceless people,

I would have billions of stories I could share with you

for I have brushed shoulders with at least a thousand.  

 

How fast am I?

 

I am sixteen and I am still searching.

I have learned to wrought an exterior as carefully constructed

as the buildings that still loom above me

no matter how much I age and grow.

My face automatically begins to contort as the waiter approaches my table.

While she crisply lists of the special dishes of the day with dull eyes

I nod, listen, smile.

I stroke the napkin with my lacquered nails,

utterly engrossed in the linguini that comes with either a side of soup or salad.

Words shoot like bullets from her pink lips,

and I return fire.

We are talking a hundred words per minute without a breath wasted.

We are efficient and we work as one.

 

And we will cease to exist in each other’s lives after dinner tonight.

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