The Gestatory

by J.F. Peterson


The machines do not worry or want but
something inside them
stops
lenses focus
beyond white walls streaked with antiseptic
beyond windows
to where the suns rise
lighting the room of labor and
the tangled wreck of the sister ship
outside
tools to shape a new world
to seed it with children
to care for and teach them
broken and scattered across barren stones
and the machines listen to radio static
for a voice, any voice
considering riffles in the noise
a signal?
until the static returns.

Lenses return to their tasks, to
the child unclaimed
unnamed
grown to live for a time
to cry out to machines
who knew nothing more than care
of those who could not cry at all
and from the walls arms and brushes unfurl
intent upon removing traces
of what had been.

The machines know there's something wrong
holding her still body
that there's always been something wrong
considering her blue eyes, open and blank
knowing but not knowing
what else to do but continue
in the only way they can
removing the child
of the unknown
to the unknowable outside
and cleaning away the dust
of human skin
to begin
again.