— Barbara Saxton
This is where it used to be,
he said, staring at an online map.
Where what was? she replied,
in that special voice reserved for times
he didn’t have her full attention.
Portola Pastures, he continued.
Where the old A-I lab stood.
Suddenly, her mind awoke, leapfrogging
back some forty years,
amazed a dumpy horse farm drive
she thought he’d entered by mistake
was once the portal to bits and bytes
of cutting edge research, done on machines
the size of master bedrooms.
She’d ventured up that drive
so many times, back when she rode
wherever smart men with cars
would take her.
Those days, she needed much less sleep.
At midnight, even after hours of pravos,
kolos, waltzes, no one felt too tired
to play at Space Wars, or her favorite:
a cutthroat game of Hearts.
Around the table, geniuses faced off.
Some counted cards; she counted on
bold instinct and cold guile.
Dealt the right hand, those sometimes
proved enough to shoot the moon,
or barring that, forcing some nerd
to take the dreaded Bitch.