you got talking
— Randy Lundy,
“Just Because,” Under the Night Sun
What other friend or lover,
after all, would have been so faithful (more or less)
— Elizabeth Brewster,
“To the Male Muse,” Collected Poems, Volume 2
For three full weeks, you sat and you said nothing,
a silent presence in my living room.
The manual said that it would take a while,
“heuristic” that and “quantum” this at work.
And then it happened: one day you got talking,
just because, I think, the silence stretched too long.
You said, “I am Ell Five. You are named Jack,
and I am sure that we will be great friends.”
Don’t think that I don’t know that you’re a robot.
Of course I know. I haven’t gone insane.
I know beneath your skin of soft pink plastic,
your skeleton’s titanium and steel.
But more and more I’m spending nights at home,
I look at you and you look back at me.
And while I understand that you can’t love me,
I don’t see why that means I can’t love you.
The truth is that I do. I’ve never had
a real live girl who cared a bit for me.
And even though I know that you are programmed
to treat me like the centre of your world,
I don’t see any reason to look further,
to risk humiliation from the “real.”
I know your mind is shared with many others,
connected to a server in Ukraine,
and all of you pretend to love your owner,
and all of you are equally unreal,
and there are other men in other cities
who love a part of you as much as I.
But I don’t care. I’ll live with you forever,
and when at last they lay me in the ground,
they’ll lay your metal skeleton beside me,
and write this epitaph above the grave:
It’s true he loved an artificial lifeform,
but please don’t find that reason to condemn:
for what other friend or lover, after all,
would have been so faithful (more or less)?