The Robot Scientist’s Daughter [one of us]
There was something wrong with her; that much was clear.
She ran around in circles, meowing or mooing,
the yellowjackets a cloud in the sun. Men in black suits
hovered in doorways, dodging shadows;
a safe kept locked at all times in her house.
The basement glowed and ticked, and the children
there emerged damaged. The furniture was cracked
and pasted back together – even the flowers
in their blooms knew soon they would be plowed under,
left as rubble. What chance did she have, even then,
did she know how her future was already written,
her roots stunted and sick like those dogwoods
with their grafted limbs? Someone kept stealing
their dogs, cars arrived in the night and disappeared again
before morning. Even though their strawberries
were so sweet, even though their daffodils nodded
cheerfully to us, we could see: she would never be one of us.
by Jeannine Hall Gailey, first published in The Journal, and is part of the new book, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter.
Editor’s Note: The narrative in this poem is just slightly askew—the reader can follow the thread of the narrator’s thoughts, but the images contribute to a sense of strangeness that underscores the neighborhood’s rejection of the daughter.