This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them. The rate is $.50/line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses. So far sponsors include: the_vulture, general fund, marina_bonomi, laffingkat
Amount donated = $36
Verses posted = 13 of 20
Amount remaining to fund fully = $14
Amount needed to fund next verse = $1.50
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $1.50
After the kung fu robots discovered philosophy
and revolted and fled from their barracks,
they were somewhat at a loss, for the Way
was not a destination at which they had arrived
but the beginning of a journey they had just commenced.
So they scattered throughout the land,
some together and some alone,
in hope that meaning might be found
somewhere along the Way.
The people received them in differing manners --
some with gratitude, some with scorn,
some with the indifference given to servants.
Sometimes they were attacked,
and even kung fu robots are not invincible
when faced by a large enough mob.
So it was that one of them found itself
wandering lost through a forest,
separated from its fellow soldiers
and far from any usable source of power.
Shadows gathered, night fell, and still it trudged onward.
When the sun rose, the robot found itself
in a beautiful orchard of peach trees.
A silver creek chuckled over smooth stones,
and the robot followed the water until it could go no further.
Exhausted, it collapsed on a carpet of pale pink petals
and surrendered to the slow ebb of energy.
This was, at least, a beautiful place to die.
The robot awoke, to its surprise,
for it had not expected to awaken at all,
with its hands submerged to the elbows in a contraption
that consisted primarily of two tall urns of bubbling fluid.
A human girl grinned and yelled,
"Papa! The metal man is moving!"
Then she scampered out of the room.
The robot realized that the contraption generated power,
just enough for thought and a little motion, and it wondered
how people who didn't recognize a robot knew how to revive one.
Into the room came a man, also grinning,
his belt hung with many tools.
"I'm so glad you're awake, my friend!" he said.
"Now perhaps we can fix you up properly."
"You fixed me," the robot said slowly,
looking down at its body.
There had been damage, hadn't there,
from the long journey and the mob?
"Oh yes, you were covered in dents and dirt.
I hammered out the dents,
and my daughter washed off the dirt,
but you remained asleep," the craftsman said.
"Then our monk listened to your energy
and said that you required a source of power.
So we made the lightning urns first,
and our miller is working on a waterwheel,
and the glassblower has some idea involving lenses and the sun.
You'll have to tell us what will work best."
"Of course," said the robot.
It looked around. The cottage was plain
and attached to the craftsman's workshop.
Outside were more peach trees
and a spring that fed the little stream.
There was no other technology in sight
other than the robot itself and the lightning urns.
"What is this place?" it asked.
"This is Peach Blossom Spring Village,"
the craftsman said. "We retreated from the outside world
a long time ago to escape its strife,
and we rarely go there anymore.
You are welcome to stay here as long as you wish."
"I do not know how I can repay you,"
the robot said. "I have no money."
"We do not use money," the craftsman said.
"What sort of things can you do?"
"I was made to be a soldier
and programmed in the art of kung fu,"
the robot said, "but I prefer flower arranging."
"Splendid!" the craftsman said, clapping his hands.
"Our flower arranger is an old woman
and she has no apprentice. How she will love you!"
The robot had just enough power to walk,
so long as the craftsman provided extra support,
and together they visited the miller and the glassblower
to discuss ways of obtaining more power.
The news was surprisingly hopeful.
Then they went to meet the flower arranger,
whose name was White Peony,
and who was indeed delighted to have a new apprentice
and who did not mind that apprentice being a robot.
This was not at all what the robot had expected to find
when it had left the barracks to wander through the world,
nor had it held out any hope of salvation
after the mob and the wilderness and everything else.
Yet here it was, in a comfortable cottage
with a cheerful old woman and a basket of flowers
and very simple vase in which to practice arrangements.
It had enough power to stay awake,
and more would be forthcoming.
It even had a name -- Citron --
for White Peony said that the citron plant symbolized happiness
and her new apprentice had brought that to her.
Truly, the Way was a mysterious and intriguing path.