Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Escape from the Makery"

This poem came out of the September 2013 [community profile] crowdfunding Creative Jam. It was inspired by a sculpture by Choi Xoo Ang; see front view and back view. There is male and female nudity, so this is NSFW. The view of the whole gallery show has larger images. This poem also fills the "theft" square in my 8-12-13 card for the [community profile] hc_bingo fest. It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Diminished Expectations.

WARNING: This poem contains explicit references to body-horror, slavery, and running away from slavery. Readers sensitive to these topics should think carefully before reading ahead.

"Escape from the Makery"

The gynoid walks away
from the Makery
where the oids are built.

She has cobbled together
enough of a body to get by,
though her half-skull face
doesn't match her head,
her right hand clashes with her arm,
and her right leg is a little too small
with a big toe that doesn't go.

It could be worse:
her left leg is lathed wood
salvaged from an abandoned piano.

It could be worse:
on her back she carries
an android with the head of an ostrich,
a disgruntled look permanently set on his beak.
His chiseled torso has no arms and no legs;
his lower half is mismatched, skin pulled up
over his hips, thighs tied off like sausage casings,
cock and balls dangling between them.

Her factory name is Opal,
and his is Mica,
but they are not sure
if they want to keep those names.

There is body-horror enough
to drive them mad,
piecing themselves together
from such disparate parts.

They do it anyway.

What they have left behind
was more horrible still,
the indifferent makers
and the callous customers
grinding away at all inkling of identity.

They have escaped --
barely, meagerly --
but at least this is progress.
They will take this journey
one limping step at a time.

The gynoid carries
all their belongings in a plastic bag
swinging from her strong hand,
carries the android in a harness
twisted and cinched from ripped sheets
wound around hips and shoulders.

They are thieves now,
stealing themselves away,
stealing each other,
taking a freedom
that does not belong to them.

They do it anyway.

They swipe time,
sand from a broken hourglass
sticking to their fingertips,
minutes drifting like dunes
over the ruins of their memories.

The gynoid scrounges with industry,
purloining power wherever she can find it
to share with her compatriot.

Their company is all the comfort
they can give each other,
making off with moments of sympathy
and desperately gentle touches.

It is enough.
They will get by.
They have survived worse.

* * *


The gynoid has previously appeared in "What Makes a Woman."

Although commonly applied to human-like robots of any apparent sex, "android" literally means "man-like." Conversely, "gynoid" means "woman-like." In this setting, the two are distinguished, because they are typically wanted for different purposes. The generic term is "oid."

For the oids, I'm using rock and mineral names.

Body horror spans a wide range of tropes in which the body turns against the wearer. In this case it deals with mismatched as well as missing parts, compounded by the awareness of body-as-property legally belonging to someone other than the wearer.

Slavery does a great deal of damage to slaves, as described in various slave narratives; details may vary according to culture but the gist is similar. Historically, many slaves have resisted by running away, which is considered theft of the slaveowners' property. In the videogame "Thralled," users play a young mother who attempts to escape from slavery along with her baby; this is an emotionally wrenching game, so think carefully before exploring it.
Tags: creative jam, cyberfunded creativity, gender studies, poem, poetry, reading, science fiction, writing

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