IN THE HEYDAYS OF HIS EYES
(taut jeans dancing)

An Anthology of Poetry about Being Young and Growing Up
 
 
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FACTORY WORK

Deborah Boe

All day I stand here, like this, over the hot-glue machine, not too close to the wheel that brings up the glue, and I take those metal shanks, slide the backs of them in glue and make them lie down on the shoe-bottoms, before the sole goes on. It's simple, but the lasts weigh, give you big arms. If I hit my boyfriend now, in the supermarket parking lot, he knows I hit him. Phyllis, who stands next to me, had long hair before the glue machine got it. My machine ate up my shirt once. I tried to get it out, the wheel spinning on me, until someone with a brain turned it off. It's not bad here, people leave you alone, don't ask you what you're thinking. It's a good thing, too, because all this morning I was remembering last night, when I really thought my grandpa's soul had moved into the apartment, the way the eggs fell, and the lamp broke, like someone was trying to communicate to me, and he just dead this week. I wouldn't blame him. That man in the next aisle reminds me of him, a little. It's late October now, and Eastland needs to lay some people off. Last week they ran a contest to see which shankers shanked fastest. I'm not embarrassed to say I beat them all. It's all in economy of motion, all the moves on automatic. I almost don't need to look at what I'm doing. I'm thinking of the way the leaves turn red when the cold gets near them. They fall until you're wading in red leaves up to your knees, and the air snaps in the tree-knuckles, and you begin to see your breath rise out of you like your own ghost each morning you come here.

 
 
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