recreate from these faults
and fears, fitter selves,
as lean years follow fat
from “Into a Rightness” by Teju Cole
Don’t get me wrong: I do believe
in elves. Just not the laundry-thieving
kind. The kind for which I’ve seen
the evidence with my own eyes, the ones
that live behind the laptop screen,
those whose existence is the busy
tailoring of the fabric of reality.
Virtual, that is. The ones they
call the -bots that wake each other
up to watch the moment I sign in,
who register each mouse-click, each
virtual location that I visit, who
read the poems as I’m typing them
and offer ads to fit. Once, I’d
considered ad-blocker, virtual
exterminator…but no more. Instead,
I am amused by their vigilance,
tenacity, perceptions, by the way
they work and the advertisements
that they show me. I do not click
to visit any of the ads or sites
suggested, but take time to appreciate
the talent evident in the selections.
Yesterday, comparing tables, laws,
and tax-charts. Two windows open:
2017 calculation for what portion
of social security is taxable. 2018
tax law bill to puzzle over the new
tables. I go a long time without
pressing any keyboard keys at all,
working the numbers on the calculator
trying to find any way to make
the money reach. I sigh, then bump
the mouse to wake up the screen
in time to catch a quarter-page ad
that’s sprung full-size from some
god’s forehead: the elves suggest:
RETIRE IN HONDURAS!
I start to laugh and cannot stop,
then stand up in full salute. Indeed,
my elvish friends. Bravo! Indeed.
So lately I’ve been writing all these
poems about laundry. And the elves
are tearing strips from the fabric
of the universe and stitching them
together into the world of my dreams:
this morning, seven advertisements
for multi-packs of socks, an article picked
for me to read on ten ways to clean
my washer and dryer (THIS LIFE HACK
WORKS BETTER THAN BLEACH!),
a local mechanic’s business card,
an advertisement for a yard sale.
Then more socks, and green detergents,
then more socks. And yes, you know.
Amen to this personal quilting
of the internet today, this tailored
vision of the world that I live in.
No more advertisements for cruises,
retirement communities, luxury SUVs.
No more airfare-deals, no more
No more ads for fitness programs, no
more miracle solutions, no more kale,
turmeric, and vinegar. Amen.
As in real-space, so in cyber. Live
on, small elves, keep tailoring, reminding
me that I can really
change the world
around me with no more than
words and washing.