Robert B. Shaw
The Future Perfect - Poem by Robert B. Shaw
It will be recognizable: your neighborhood,
with of course some of the bigger trees
gone for pulp and the more upscale houses
sporting new riot-proof fencing which
they seem hardly to need in this calm sector
whose lawns look even more vacuumed than they used to.
Only a soft whirr of electric automobiles
ruffles unburdened air. Your own house looks
about the same, except for the solar panels.
Inside, the latest occupants sit facing
the wall-size liquid crystal flat TV screen
they haggle and commune with, ordering beach towels
or stockings, or instructing their stockbrokers,
while in the kitchen dinner cooks itself.
Why marvel over windows that flip at a touch
from clear to opaque, or carpets that a lifetime
of scuffs will never stain? This all was destined,
down to the newest model ultrasound toothbrush.
Only the stubborn, ordinary ratio
of sadness to happiness seems immune to progress,
and it will take more time than even you
have at your disposal to find out why.
The same and not the same, this venue fascinates,
spiriting you through closed familiar doors
on random unremarkable evenings when
you will have been gone
for how long? -Just a bit longer than your successors
have had to make these premises their own.
However much their climate-controlled rooms
glow vibrant with halogen, they will not see you.
But they may wonder why, for no clear reason,
they find their thoughts so often drawn to the past
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