A E Stallings - This Afterlife (Selected Poems)

Author: Stallings, A.E.
Title: This Afterlife: selected poems
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
Year: 2022
Link: https://worldcat.org/en/title/1355023930

Page 27 (From Archaic Smile (1999)):

The Machines Mourn the Passing of People

We miss the warmth of their clumsy hands,
The oil of their fingers, the cleansing of use
That warded off dust, and the warm abuse
Lavished upon us as reprimands.

We were kicked like dogs when we were broken,
But we did not whimper. We gritted our cogs--
An honor it was to be treated as dogs,
To incur such warm words roughly spoken,

The way that they pleaded with us if we balked--
"Come on, come on" in a hoarse whisper
As they would urge a reluctant lover--
The feel of their warm breath when they talked!

How could we guess they would ever be gone?
We are shorn now of tasks, and the lovely work--
Not toiling, not spinning -- like lilies that shirk--
Like the brash dandelions that savage the lawn.

The air now is silent of curses or praise.
Jilted, abandoned to hells of what weather,
Left to our own devices forever,
We watch the sun rust at the end of its days.

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