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Caroline Cabrera

Diorama with a Clawfoot Tub


My lover imagines our life in miniature.

He named his sewing machine ‘Song’


and pedaled patchwork draperies.

Reduce these gestures,


reduce all acts of love—

everything can be boiled and thickened


and spread on toast.  Everything can

ache.  All of my lonelinesses


have missing siblings I am too cruel

or frightened to look for.  Instead I send out


this steady pealing.  Everywhere I go

there are miniature footstools, couples


posed mid-miniature foxtrot. 

Enough!   I am life-sized


and peninsular.  I am surrounded

by so many bodies.  Actual differences


exist between teal and aquamarine,

actual past lovers keep turning up naked


in Adirondack chairs.  They too have been set

in private terrariums and fed sedatives.


This is not an accusation.  All anyone wants

is to be played by a good-looking actor,


to be represented by a blunt epithet.

It’s the erasures that cause discomfort,


the blending.  How salt is actually good

for wounds—a biological punishment,


how sharks can’t ever really sleep.

The sewing machine is actually singing.


It’s starting an industrial revolution.  I’m

gonna soak up all the brine.




Robot Love Diorama


You’re a robot, but I keep trying to fill up your chest.

I hate an empty cage, the way all that space


just rattles around, the way there’s almost enough room

for a garden, a complex system—


that potato is heart-sized;

those roots are growing down just like I’d imagined.


You corrode.  You are made of such elements.

I oil your joints with Coca-Cola and you shine


so much I get mad and you get metal.

I laugh and you metal.


I love you, I say. 

But I don’t understand, you say.


You zoom around the apartment finishing all my chores.

You let me read my emails from the screen in your belly.


Sometimes you sleep in the storage closet

with my vacuum cleaner,


but you’re no good for cuddling, anyway.

You can make really beautiful sounds


and imitate almost every animal.;

If I pet your head, you coo like a peacock,


and I think this is pretty much like love, anyway.

We are the simplest machines.


You send me pictures of hydrangeas.

You send a message from our operator. 


It says I’m a robot too,

programmed not to know I’m a robot.


You encoded the message so I can’t read it.

I polish my face. We’re getting ready for a party.


You ransack all your search engines

trying to tie my favorite bowtie. 

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