pry apart your steel ribs
to press a cold palm to the pulse
of fluid through your gutta-percha veins
trace the hard knobs of bolts
that stitch you tall and strong

wonder at the love I knew
as I built you by hand and gas lamp
sure and slow as in the womb
wonder at where your soul truly resides
is it within your makeshift heart?
the hummingbird thrum of your brain?
from where did your consciousness arise?

I may offer reams of blueprints
on the structure of your skeletal system
the synchrony of cogs and tines
but like a biological mother, I know not
from where the beauty of your essence arises
it simply is, and is joy

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—Beth Cato is the author of The Clockwork Dagger series from Harper Voyager, which includes the novella Wings of Sorrow and Bone. Her newest novel is Breath of Earth. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat. Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato.

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