Black screens are everywhere,
Their rank and file
Line every horizontal surface,
Wait in congenial groups
Of twos and threes
On every desk,
At every work station.
Some are untidy sleepers,
Wires sprawled across tables,
Their plugs neglectfully
Disengaged from outlets,
Keyboards resting askew
Against balled up mouses
Some stand side by side
A team at the ready,
Their cords fastidiously
Bundled and wrapped
In efficient Velcro.
Attached in tandem,
Like cartoon elephants walking in a line.
And all around them
In this utilitarian room
Shelves full of bins,
Milky translucent plastic
Showing ghost images of cords and wires
Of adapters and components
Also waiting for the time
When they will be called into service
When it is their special connector
That will solve a Dean’s crisis,
That will sort out the problem of
A panicked distance-worker
On her annual campus pilgrimage.
The luddite in their midst,
Sitting on the chrome and padded chair,
She is timid amidst the bustle,
Waiting her turn,
But is grateful for these youngsters,
These acolytes of the information age,
Who keep worlds of knowledge in their heads
Knowledge that, to the uninitiated,
Seems so much like the alchemy of old,
Like vast and insurmountable
Barely older than the students they serve,
The inhabitants here are extraordinarily friendly,
And have the knowledge
To contact the unseen,
To petition The Cloud.
They know the Code,
Some of them even write it,
And they can get the pilgrim in,
Or at least beseech the gods
On her behalf,
They can heal the infected
And absolve the sins of the masses
Protecting the flock
From the malice of the evil hackers,
Can shepherd the ignorant
Into a brighter technological day.
And so she waits
Seated on the primly patterned upholstery,
As phones ring,
Brows are briefly furrowed
And then problems are solved.
She waits until he comes through the door,
Her preferred technician.
He shakes her hand and takes her holy device
With a casually confident air
And she breathes a sigh of relief.
As he places it on the industrial Formica altar.
He will make everything right again,
He will erase her indiscretions,
She will be saved.