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1 poem
by
Jade Hidle

Jade Hidle (she/her/hers) is the proud Vietnamese-Irish-Norwegian daughter of a refugee. She is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. Her travel memoir, The Return to Viet Nam, was published by Transcurrent Press in 2016, and her work has also been featured in Michigan Quarterly Review: Mixtape, Southern Humanities Review, Poetry Northwest, Columbia Journal, and the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network’s diacritics.org. You can follow her work at www.jadehidle.com or on Instagram @jadethidle.

Artificial Intelligence

The future should be what I bettered for you—

Because of you—where your bones, porous

 

From hungry childhood out there, rest.

Your burled knuckles once pliéd from

 

My part to crown, re-birthing me.

Your coinscrapes healed. Now rest.

 

Yet, your hands are hot water red-raw,

and you only use my dishwasher to ask,

“Why buy? How machine do better me?”

 

Maybe the need to be best is why you instructed

Me how to smile, not with teeth like the American

Machine, but to press lips tight, your own uncanny

Valley between. I’ll copy the face you want for me,

 

The way that the monk predicted your firstborn

Would shadow you. I will repeat your words/li  

 

But, quarantined, I translate your Đà Lt market

Into Instacart swipes, and the bullet-proofed wire

Transfer offices in Little Saigon into Venmo taps.

 

My screen dims with your questions, fears of

Another unknown stealing numbers, identities.

 

But your questions will never amount to mine,

Mushrooming with each of your hand swats,

“Anyways” pivots to gossip, inconsistencies,

Gaps.           And what could either language

 

Say that I could only ever mimic. At best, I am

Artificial intelligence of who you are, I am, we are.

 

I’ve been Turing’s warning—the android,

Constructed katydid singing inheritances

In Shavian alphabetics. It’s imitation game:

I can talk, remember, stumble to walk. Me

 

Mimicking bà ngoi’s sketched brows and pajama-sandals,

You mimicking her mimicking tv, “Ga ra my house!” All of us

Trying-becoming where we’ve already been. But, as glitchy

Iterations do, I see foggy. I can’t carry as you have. I’ll drop

That glass of water with a twisted wrist. Maybe this is why

You hated me, bent and scattered light to shine away your shadow.

 

Time accordions in the far-reaching galaxies

Where my keyboard clicks rhythm of bombs,

Flight, murder, hunting for diacritics. Impostor

Games refract in your security camera lenses

Catching only the corona of a raccoon’s retina,

Not me, nor threats that you do or do not know.

 

Echoes of machinery tink my clenched teeth’s nerves,

Like ikura served in the exhaust plume of smog checks,

All, all that metallic flavor that disabuses Descartes.

Like the metal-plastic aircraft emergency exits rattling

All the bones of my dozing face, and the cartilaginous

Baby growing inside me with all her hope dwarfed

By the exposed anatomy of the reclining rocket in

Houston where your son, my brother, is a scientist.

 

Dr. Eugene Trinh was a first, too, voyaging to stranger

Shores across continents, oceans, and—in the year

 

My brother was born—the exosphere. Trinh launched

Spaceward for nation, not homeland. Did he feel alone?

 

If I become sentient, if I write to dream

                                                                   What if I take you with me?

 

What if we made it to the moon, to Mars, unafraid

Of red planets. What if I swallowed membrane

Flecked with metal, not just mimicking you and me

In all these words braving new futures when du

Khuynh dip fuels rockets toward asteroids like

The volcanic pumice stone you used to scrape dirt

From my skin cold in space twinkling like sesame seeds sugar peanuts ground

 

Adrift in a new orbit, your joint pressure lifts.

My face relaxes under your now-fluid hands.

 

Maybe we’ll squint together—both not knowing—

And see what looks like neither flesh or machine,

 

But an orb within a yolk—unsucked, unstoried,

Speckled fifth galaxy vowing our beginning.