Paper still serves a purpose, she thinks:
it can be made into origami.
And on her screen an email chimes
from the factory in Akron. Akron,
where machinists, engineers, and yellow
hard hats shouted above the gears.
These cannot be restored
to what they were when her computer
began to tabulate their tasks for them,
to free their time under its cold gaze.
Now the still, small war for her mind
is sourced out of her depth and lost.
It is not the factory that she thinks about;
it is that her thoughts, sold off
and refurnished with transistors,
now know a brighter, unitary career
that bores and erodes
and will come to an end also.
The glinting copper lying in heaps already,
the sun steady and glaring,
the workers who crowd the streets
(because of her value-add machine)
watched the nicks and blood of their experience
thread into one internal process.
Ruthless and precise digital thought.
Even now, the process improvement continues
ticking toward the grand fantasy:
a world without workers.
The now-isolated plant
where they dragged engineers
off for exit interviews
now hums and waits for her
for the impression of her thumb
to leave its trace in oil on the plate
sinuous as the rosetting on a jungle cat
the same thumb for a newer, sleeker system
That will disrupt the industry
with cheaper, better products
held in sweaty hands and shown off
by nurse practitioners and politicians.
You do not see what she sees
behind the empty factory floor:
her small team and the terminal
updated yet antiquated, the automata
operating from her i/o interface
to weld without light
and an undying face
put upon everything.
The machinists gone out searching
far for the rest of their lives
and security no nearer
but still in sight, and the only way.