February Fiction: Metal Heart (a poem)

Poem and Artwork by Lucy Zhang, Age 16, USA


Metal Heart

His hand’s warmth is intangible to the metal
his heart of gold to her heart of steel
lingering in an ephemeral dream
like the flap of a butterfly’s wings
only to crash to the ground moments later.

There is a soul sitting inside that armour
she lacks flesh and bone like a transparent entity
a ghost, a spirit, a gust of wind
and yet she possesses a physical form
this lifeless, cold steel that maintains her existence.

When they hold each other
she cannot feel the touch of flesh
but she does not need to,
like moth to flame she is drawn in,
but no matter how close
the fire can never satiate her.

When alone, he becomes a cynic
he knows that the world wishes to spite him
dangling their hearts just beyond grasp
harming both victims,
yes, he has lost faith in humanity.

After all, how can he love
a thing with no pulse, lone and mute
until the switch is shifted from “off” to “on”
completely under his control
Love is reckless, he had always thought.

Her brain knows no more than wire and circuits—
the programming behind a directed response
a marionette attached to the ceiling, driven through synapses
a hollow shell without prescience.
How could she have foretold such a malfunction?

So he rewired her system with his dexterous hands
she began to feel intangible warmth
beneath her hollow cavity
it was such a strange feeling
it was normal, he said.

But she was still artificial
though she desired, felt, wept, and endured
when uncontrollable rage racked her body
her words were merely enough to question:
What does it mean to be human?


Lucy writes, “I hope that my writing can become beautiful and/or powerful.”


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