Mary-Alice Daniel was born in Nigeria and raised all over the world. She received her MFA from the University of Michigan in 2013. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in New England Review, Mid-American Review, Salon, and Anti-. She lives in Los Angeles.
Somewhere Along the Base of the Uncanny Valley
You never wonder what a demon does in his downtime.
They're flat characters, not tradesmen. But, once,
under the revival tent, it came out—
Goldbeater. Machinist. Weaver, Welder, Mender.
Keymaker, the preacher said.
You must have known only a Paperhanger could wall in your dreams
with doodles of your precancerous mother;
only a Taxidermist could bear her corpse
long after you wondered why her fat heart hadn't given out.
I am an apprentice of this pointless supposition.
Sometimes I imagine I can tell, by a girl's name,
how or how much her parents loved her,
supposing there's never been an unloved Sparrow, Imelda,
Islet, Little Miss Waltz— names of birds, never flowers or towns.
Back to work.
Whip and grump and immolation.
They know nothing
about writing the same thing over and over.
They set to their task in the studio and workroom,
the practiced, relentless ones.
And how we are only journeymen.