3p Home Page The Threepenny Review
Summer 2014

Looking at Saints
and Talking About Robots

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Susan and I look at saints at the Met, track
down Lucy, Catherine, Justina, palm
branches and swords, peaceful told-you-so
expressions. We walk out past cornus mas
and daffodils, forsythia, to the Frick. Past
a woman, her iPhone, her yelling out FRICK.
The FRICK MUSEUM. We snicker. Frick
and Clark, the fricken Met. At the Frick
we see a flock of Piero della Francescas. Angels
with blue or pink or ochre wings around
a sturdy Mary, trying to keep the baby from
that rose. All day we’ve talked about robots;
scary-sexy ones in Metropolis, Stepford Wives,
how now we’re not turned on, just terrified.
The boys at Boston Dynamics love headlines
saying Big Dog’s creepy, pieces freaking out about
SquishBot. Why now are we afraid? I think it’s
Terminator, blame that guy for everything. But
Susan’s smart, blames The Industrial Revolution,
The Big IR, how everybody lost their jobs. We also
lost our limbs, then, early on. John Henry, steam.
Do we want to die with our hammer in our hand?
I guess we sort of do. We love our iPhones,
love our cars, but we’ve decided we’re the ones
who get a face, who get to win, who get a say.

—Jill McDonough

Jill McDonough, winner of three Pushcart Prizes, is the author of Habeas Corpus and Where You Live. She directs the MFA program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, as well as 24 Pearl Street, the Fine Arts Work Center online.

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