The Future: “In Another Lifetime,” from a crown of sonnets by Tomas Nieto

In Another Lifetime

In a basement in what was known as Seattle, a watchmaker
solders a metal wing onto a robot bird, springing it to life
with the weight of gear as engine—motion as ignition. This
is the closest thing to impulse without nerve, thrill, or grief.
In another lifetime, fortune tellers read love lines
through circuits and wires, speaking wonders from matrix,
destiny from diagrams. There is more for
the moon to pull and that metal bird
is just called a bird. See, there are a thousand ways  
to count the dead without muttering a single name.
Tragedies are streamed, so the collective
can mourn as one. In that congregation,
a single spark can light up a room, fill it
with incandescence and leave you speechless. 

The currency is apologies, which buys back
time, which comes in the form of more apologies.
Stock markets trade one for the other until corporations
are as immaculate as how all stories begin. First,
the clocks break, which is met with panic—
all searing, but no fuse. Then, the bones of water
becomes the capital to keep order. People hang ponds
from their ceilings and watch their futures drop.
They spend their days counting the moments
vanishing in front of their eyes.
When the surface breaks, they find
a recipe for the mending in the ripples:
widen the circle far enough
and the fissure becomes part of the body.

Windfall finally melts the artic and the gambles
go with it. In the evacuation, bus drivers sail
the last of humanity to the outer rim of
the atmosphere. Cities stack where the horizon
sits, underlit by galaxies and the tenacious
habit of hunger. The historians forgot paper.
Soon, they forget about trees, then poems.
They hypothesize about county fairs and cruise ships,
and the uses of honey and war. They mix
the dust of home and nimbus bleed
into ink to record their chronicles onto
the walls of Earth’s orbit. When they run out of space,
they turn their hopes into needles and tattoo
their proverbs into the intimacy of your mind.

When the forgiveness of a touch is
as close as the latex will let it, look instead.
Ask a thief for advice on stealing a moment with somebody
you love because they take things that isn’t theirs.
A thick blanket can lay a body flat and bury it
under day—this is medicine. And so is crossing
the threshold with a knife at the ready
because there is nothing more human than survival.
When there are more factories building metal limbs
than bandages and scientists brewing more calamities
than cures, call the monks and priests, the bakers and sirens,
the wanderers and students because they will scrape
off the rust, oil the gears, gather the drifted, burn
the burning and craft this machine in the reflection of you.

Tomas Nieto is a writer and educator from San Diego, California. An alum of Las Dos Brujas, Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, and VONA/Voices, his work has appeared in Solstice Literary Magazine, The Rumpus, Mud Season Review, and others.

Image: he-man.fandom.com

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