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by Jane Varley

Always nearby, screen black like the surface of a pond. Your case tells about who owns you— ensconced in colored plastic armor, sprinkled with sparkles or cute animals, inscribed with hard ironic words, shimmering in 3-D like an ocean in another world, a symbol of how we want you to take us away, soothe us, entertain us, connect us, take us up into the Cloud where the vast storage of information has memed out into endlessness, erasing individuals and creating one airy blob of humanity, with our selfies, vacation pics, and stress-relieving videos of animals doing cuddly, inane things. You have shape yet you are dimensionless, as if you refuse to have contours like other objects of daily life, glasses and shoes and coffee cups. Just one single soft touch opens your color and light, and you become more than you really should be, full of the world’s perspicacity along with its hysteria, and you deliver it all with ease—it doesn’t bother

you a bit. I see you riding along in my daughter’s back pocket, your screen agitated with the many messages tinging her mind from the universe, and I know there is no stopping this, this magnetism of the colossal oracle revealing our truths to us, inasmuch as truth still exists, in pixelated codes that rise to the oxymoron of your depthless face, your montage of timelessness, the conscience-lessness of your insistent presence, oh, how we can and cannot do without you.

Jane Varley is the author of three books in three different genres: Creative non-fiction [Flood Stage and Rising—U of Nebraska], Poetry [Sketches at the Naesti Bar—Finishing Line], and Memoir [You Must Play to Win!—McDonald & Woodward] with NCAA Hall of Fame fast-pitch coach Donna Newberry. She has a Ph.D. in poetry from the University of North Dakota, and she is a professor of English and head of the Arts & Humanities Division at Muskingum University.

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