Poetry: Sushi Robot Prepares the Way by Luisa A. Igloria


According to the students at my university,

among the features of the new cafeteria

that opened in fall is a Sushi Robot—

which I thought would be an updated version

of Rosie the Robot Maid from that old sixties

cartoon, The Jetsons, until I searched

the internet for a helpful YouTube

which showed me a boxlike contraption

smaller than an ATM but larger

than a water cooler, capable of pressing out

a uniformly thin square of cooked sushi rice

upon which one can proceed to quickly lay

a sheet of nori and on top of that,

precisely measured slices of avocado,

carrots, and crab sticks

before the revolving belt platform

retracts and an arm pushes down

to fold the roll in thirds

before sliding it out onto a waiting

plastic tray. First it was the Roomba,

that circular robotized disc

quietly whirring as it went, eating dust

from room to room. Next came all the talk

about the self-driving Tesla X, capable

of accelerating from 0 to 60 in two

seconds flat. Some think this is the beginning

of our end, a future drawing nearer when we

and our hungers will simply be extruded

from one end of a pipe to the other for the sake

of efficiency, with no intervening time to meditate

on what it all means. Will there be any

further need to work, or will everyone have

access to basic income? With work distributed

to mechanized devices, will we finally enter

the temple of true pleasure, knowledge of which we

have only ever known because of its differentiation

from pain? Will there be reading and writing,

will there be poems? Will we hold our fingers up

to the light, trying to recall what they were for?

Dr. Luisa A. Igloria is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize, the world’s first major award for ecopoetry. She is the author of Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass, among many other titles, including two new chapbooks, Haori and Check & Balance. She teaches on the faculty of the Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University. Visit luisaigloria.com for more information about her work. This poem originally appeared at ViaNegativa.us.

© Luisa A. Igloria. Used with permission.

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