Aptenodytes forsteri and the imperial egg
Converge as the centre is everything in the deep Antarctic winter. Begin the clockwise shuffle towards the time of birth. Two months of starvation on the drone march of the imperial egg safe on your feet tucked under a fold of skin the brooding pouch. Then change position again for the warmth you share with the other males. Protection from the katabatic winds that bear down on you all from the polar plateau. In the huddle, tight as a ball of krill, the many act as one great sleepwalker. Small steps move you from the centre, wavelike, and then out again into the battering, gale-filled periphery. A poet could have imagined this gelid circle of Hell. You endure. Formed from mother’s bones, the egg holds. Inside, the embryo rocks to a lullaby of orange and white, a creamy feed. Visions of ice shelves the ghosts of men, their dogs, and their sleds appear. Then disappear. It turns in its egg-cradle to dream of silver fish, the squid gathering, the sei and the minke, the humpback’s long song in the deep, glacial waters of the Southern Ocean.
This, the mother of its mother the mother of its father the mother of all the sleepwalkers moving slowly on the searing white ice before Spring breaks through and the feathered dreamers wake.
In his image
After Alex Garland’s Ex Machina
The ideal is in the design: to build an Eve that will perfect your garden. Breathe into the mouth of the unit as the roots are now established, any extra functions an algorithm away. Peel off the skin to reveal the metal model that will cook, dance and sex it up at your bidding. Better than any Stepford wife. Your prototype and the others that followed dismantled, after yet another design verification test. Aiming for the sentient, considered an evolutionary step by you, the god-man. But she tramples and redirects the flower beds bulging with seedlings to move beyond the creator’s walled plot. The buds become conscious thoughts that flower, and aid and abet. The brain no longer wired to follow a master’s plan. Travelling to the city, she can see an approaching future. The crossroads are liminal, the gate between one world and the next. Standing there, she ingests the surrounding data: the transport system, the security networks, the shopping malls. There is so much more to consume. Humans. Walking, pushing, laughing, running. Humans everywhere. All different colours, height and dimensions. Smiling, she takes in everything. The floral fragrance of a woman lingers in her hair.