Mildred built an atomic bomb
from a can of corn, a banana peel
and an old tube radio
she found in the alley.
The NSA confiscated the device
and detonated it
in an underground base in New Mexico.
Distressed at what she had become,
Mildred turned to quilting
for peace of mind. The NSA sent a man
to Mildred’s first one-woman show
and from studying her stitch patterns
they learned how to read a person’s mind
over a cell phone connection.
Mildred wept. She gave up quilting.
For money, she became a waitress.
Her customers all looked like spies.
She often saw them studying
the way she stacked plates or wrote out checks.
Mildred hated big science,
but figured, “Screw it. A girl’s got to eat.”
That’s what sucks with weapons design.
The thrill of creativity
and the inevitability
of expression define the constant,
Eventually, everyone figures,
“Screw it. A girl’s got to eat.”
There’s a saying at the NSA:
Peter Rabbit may have escaped
Mr. McGregor, but he never
could escaped Beatrix Potter.