The Automaton Falls in Love


on a glass pond the silver swan

dips its head and swallows tiny iron fish

quick, jerking gulps


someone carved each feather

with forgotten techniques

and the bird winds down

over decades, gears

growing blunt-edged

and bent


       I put you on a pedestal

where no rust could touch

nor careless child crush

or crack

did you thank me?

no, your breath—scented with the finest

lubricating oil—mutters the air

like flocks of migrant geese

in an ugly mood

you threaten to jump

batter the sky with cold fists

of copper


what is love

but protection, worship, infinite

solicitude for a partner

held captive by the slow decay

of gear and piston?

      I know

how time wears down even the bravest

you need not accept tremors

of metal and glass as fate—

I will make you safe, unchanged

by whatever death makes of our kind


the swan grinds to a halt, beak

caught halfway open and iron fish

out of reach

   mortals wind

its key as springs tick and tremble

within, the metal circulatory system

beating like your fists

its stubborn gears frozen

like you on your marble plinth


something glints in its onyx eyes

not malice but an implacable truth

a pause

a falter

a shattering disappointment

hidden beneath a silver breast


Jennifer Crow

Jennifer Crow is grateful for friends whose words, artwork, and photography inspire both poetry and hope. Her work has appeared in a number of print and electronic venues over the years, most recently in Not One of Us, The Wondrous Real, and Abyss & Apex. You can find out more about her current projects by following @writerjencrow on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment. You can register here.