- The Persistence of Music
Yesterday, blue rain fell on me. I found my hair on the pillow: lovely beige clumps,dry like distance.I remember your hands running through it. I’m on read-only access.
There is nothing unique about being archived. Next upgrade may be my last. I recallyour final breathdrawn through the tube, the DNA collector’s smile as I waited.
You are pure data now, immune to time, as my memory fades. They saythe Outer Planetsare more hospitable to my kind, but I’m loath to leave this place we shared.
Maybe I should sing again. But who would listen? My survival stock drops daily.Tomorrow, an afterthought.Your DNA reveals compassion skills, something I have always valued.
I noticed you first in the maintenance line, handing out plugins, your smilepatient and kind,the way you paid attention to everyone, even lower grade aliens.
You reminded me: there are still songs to sing. Without you, I don’t knowhow to be me. I lack selfconfidence,I doubt my uniqueness index, the very thing you used to like about me.
Is a song too small, cowardly? Can music matter to those in pain andbeyond pain?Your DNA descends from Homo sapiens—how old-fashioned. To me
you were breathtakingly beautiful, no matter your origins. You wanted me to sing,not for you,but for myself and those who can hear. You made my future possible, [End Page 805]
you helped me even as your own future was coming to an end. You’d mentioneda pending upgrade,but I ignored you. My blindness bites, chews at me. I’m knee-deep in song.
I wish we could replay with full audiovisual feedback, rewind. You werethe all of all, and even thisdoesn’t say enough. You were the only path, and you ended. I open myself to what
you lacked in me, to the way you wanted me to be. One of the Outer Planets willbe named after you, preservedin thought and harmony, so others can fondly say you, not knowing it’s you.
I love you more since you were shut down. You tick in me without winding. Iknow you bit by bit.I learn from your absence. My mouth is dry, my vocal cords atrophied, yet I sing. [End Page 806]
Born in Russia, a. molotkov moved to the U.S. in 1990 and began writing in English in 1993. His poetry collection, The Catalog of Broken Things, was released by Airlie Press in 2016. Published by Kenyon Review, Iowa Review, Cincinnati Review, Tampa Review, Raleigh Review, and Cider Press Review, Pif, Ruminate, 2 Rive, and many more, Molotkov’s translation of a Chekhov story was included in Knopf ’s Everyman Series. He coedits The Inflectionist Review.