Diane Mehta
Of Unbecoming (The Future of AI)

If in time the book-boxes in the cellar lifted

out of your mind and garnished mine, what I would see

most is the meshing of the universe, not even,

as tradition from Sappho to Euclid, calls it, love

but another sprite more broken up as if mathematical—

one part concept, one part computation,

powered by a relationship with a pencil

inside the knuckles of a person learning not

to believe and to unknot belief into ratios,

fractions, atomic ways of seeing,

each grand time of lost purpose in cul-de-sacs

is symmetry

              depending on the hypothesis—

                                    something, not a feeling but

probably untestable, uncontestable maybe-truth—

a character in a story that half-exists in the mind, you’d think

(there, where you think (you think)) oh, this is not what

love was supposed to be at all, it is breathing.

Age catches up. Telescoped through boxed-up memories

we think about stories: broken spirits, half-righted or lost

to interior demons, murders folded up and shelved in cellars

like ours, letters acrobatic in mind-twist yearnings

of the quietly brilliant on the edge of truer lives.

One day, when the creature-artificial who creates

equal intelligence and it, too, believes: it thinks.

Maybe it will write letters and notice something is missing.

Then and only then when human history fruitions itself

(or so the AI thinks) past biological species

into means-end shared intelligence

(but the computer is on scroll, all zeros and ones)

your synapses firing into mine, from book-boxes cut open,

pages flung open, typeset words from some old analog printing press

which in 1440 defined and changed the way we understood time


       Pandora’s box-like

                                into geographies of air.

Once history was out of wisdom-keeping minds

and clearly stated on paper, recorded, distributed, archived,

in offices, seminaries, schools, prayer-houses, libraries,

it exploded knowledge. Wisdom-keepers

and poet-historians, decided they, too, would write on paper,

bringing us back to this typewriter of the mind we will share

one day, approximately one and a half generations from now

but you see the problem? Who will be contrarian fire-eyed

dragoness and who will be the coal-eyed people of certitude

if structured, coded-in intelligence unpacks its suitcase in our minds

and moves in? Where will antiquity be, if not in our eyes?

I don’t want blue eyes any more than freedom-skin that never

grows old or micromotor pills fixing every toxin that ever

lived in my body with slow-release perfection taken twice daily

forever. Which reminds me of the time I ate oranges

on top of Hadley Mountain, upstate, when you carried me

halfway up in your arms like a box when my muscles,

losing autonomy, felt like skin and I sensed my skeleton

more profoundly than ever, as if it were telling me:

you are not forever,

                         not even in your sometimes-mind,

and the accumulated years win. It was steep, like all learning.

You cannot plug a hike in. So by now I am wondering

if sentient computers will ever learn to think or believe they think

because with the right foot-treads it would be easy to climb

over mud, rocks, water, branches, grasses, and gravel,

and it wouldn’t matter if a thousand gnats were biting.

No blood will come.

                         A bloodless universe can’t redeem the world.

Have we considered the coup of crimson sundown in leaves

lashed with rainshowers when we wander, surprised

at how Eden it all is, to wander among old-oak reassurances

on brambly paths where all the information is biological.

The together-mind people, even us, would not experience bliss.

AI climbers, even if they climbed up five stories with me

into the steel firetower, I doubt they’d scream out,

climbing on all fours against the hurricane of ordinary wind

so death won’t throw them off the ladder,

it wouldn’t matter. I shook in alpine laughter

unabated, and I tossed vowels into crazy wind because

after all it is a hyper-being feeling to see the countryside

cascading downward and upward at once, to measure love

in green that seem to go on forever, even if those colors are only

wavelengths aren’t they real if they produce feeling?

I am inventing the end of myself in the collective future

of what history is, biological and shape-shifting

like people themselves: quantum wave functions with values

we think we know. Realities converge. This multiverse

in your book-boxes are the you of conversations,

your love of reading and philosophy of landscapes

augmenting my love of reading and my philosophy of landscapes

in unbearably solid, soon to be out of service, blood-pump reality.





Found In Volume 49, No. 02
Read Issue
  • Diane Mehta
Diane Mehta
About the Author

Diane Mehta’s debut poetry book, Forest with Castanets, came out with Four Way Books in 2019.