Nobody knew where he came from.
He just appeared one day, took his place
as if he’d always been there.
When we asked the basic getting-to-know-you
questions, like where are you from and how
old are you, he seemed confused.
That was our first sign that something was odd.
In conversation, he spoke only when certain
words sparked programmed responses.
He took his cues from placid birds
like those in fairytales who’d land
on shoulders or in outstretched palms.
It was as if he thought nature was made
for man, as if it could be tame, as if it wasn’t here
first. He acted like humans were civilized.
We began to wonder why he never felt
the hot spread of anger, the forked bite
of jealousy, the cold grip of fear.
All the things that made us fragile and real
were missing in him. We were curious
but polite, kept our theories to ourselves.
Finally, on a particularly cold day, when the heat
was cranked high, we all took off our coats,
hung them on the back of our chairs.
Most of us tried not to stare as he
unfastened his skin, placed it just the same
way, took his seat like he always did.
He lifted his comb over from his head like a hat,
carefully arranged the wires that hung
from his metal-and-rubber body in his lap.
Nobody said anything. We didn’t want to be rude.
Anna Sandy is a poet, MFA student, English instructor, and assistant editor for Five Points. She does all of this at Georgia State University, where she also occasionally naps at her desk.