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Minotaur, No Maze
Today we bring you one of our favorite poets, Matthea Harvey, whose work we’ve had the good fortune of publishing on many occasions, including Issue #28. As she demonstrates below, it’s not easy being Robo.
Minotaur, No Maze
At the DMV Robo-Boy presents his hands. It makes you wonder. Why would they bother to engrave on each palm a life line (deep and long), a head line (joined to his life line meaning he has “a cautious, sometimes fearful nature”) and a heart line (faint and dotted, that figures) and forget to give him fingerprints? The woman looks down at the form. She has little epaulettes of dandruff on each shoulder. “Is there a reason the subject cannot be fingerprinted? An amputation? Current injury? Other, please explain.” She looks up and then back down again. And so Robo-Boy falls under the category of “other” again. Nervously he picks at his wrist with his fingernail (fingernails he has) until a bit of beige flakes off and he can see his silver undercoat glinting through. His mother keeps a little can of Skinspray #439 for touch-ups in her bedside table drawer along with her pearls and her vitamins. Once she broke a bottle of foundation in her bag and when he looked inside it seemed lined with her skin. It pleased and scared him—he half-expected a pair of eyes to blink open above the zipper mouth of the inside pocket. Instant baby sister. The woman is signaling for her supervisor—first subtly with her eyebrows, but soon she’s making huge loops and whorls with her arms. Robo-Boy looks at her desk, her phone, her black coffee mug—there are fingerprints everywhere, little gray mazes that all lead back to her big gold name tag, which reads HOW MAY I HELP? I’M (and then scrawled in smeared ink) Janice.
Matthea Harvey is the author of Sad Little Breathing Machine (Graywolf, 2004) and Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form (Alice James Books, 2000). Her third book of poems, Modern Life (Graywolf, 2007) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a New York Times Notable Book. Her first children’s book, The Little General and the Giant Snowflake, illustrated by Elizabeth Zechel, was published by Tin House Books in 2009. She is a contributing editor to jubilat, Meatpaper and BOMB. She teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence and lives in Brooklyn.