Information Age

Christopher Kempf

             Those weekends, while
                          Bradleys gathered
    on Kuwait’s northern border, their barrels
      raised, the tankers’
            breath drawn, our father
                                on the kitchen table, arranged
   the hulking Macintosh he’d brought
        home in his Chrysler Horizon.
                                                         Five

 that year, as yet
             unlettered in the epic
     of disasters passing
                 beyond our block, I watched
             with my sister the flickering
                                                    disk-drive light
                  its small beacon beneath
his touch. The dull
                           screen shimmered
                 to life.
                            Like

                                       this, he’d say taking
                            our hands in his own & holding
   our thin fingers to the keys. & we,
                                                          first
             in terror then
        in awe watched
the strange combinations of letters rend
                             the darkness. DOS. The chalky
                  cursor. The whir
              & clicking the disk-
                                              drive, like
    a man, moved
                    through its work with.
                                                        When,

             in fin de siècle Boston, Bell
       to the mouthpiece plucked
                                                    a reed, he
heard first the same mechanical static. He flattened
           his ear to the signal’s hissing as if,
    there in his basement, hailed
                             by the great & ruined future. Our father

                  huddled
                           before the screen. Oh son
            et lumière machine. Oh we
      who in that new light looked
                                       like a family folding
                                                        in on itself on the shores
                             of a burning empire. On the Tigris,

                               tanks in formation. In the basement, Bell
   to Watson—do you understand
                what I am telling you?
                                                        Yes, he said.
                                                                             We entered
          our names & erased them.

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