Piecework

Edgar Kunz

Fall 2017

My grandfather was always afraid
of the machines in his shop – plunge-
router, lathe, temperamental planer
he bartered for back when he was first
getting sober. Said his buddy
was doing piecework one time
at the table saw, looked up,
looked down and his right thumb
was on the floor. Hum of the crosscut
blade, morning swelling
in the high windows. And just now,
twenty hours in, I nod off doing eighty
outside Harrisburg and this
borrowed Civic goes perfectly on
without me. Quiet. Efficient.
Hands numb on the straightaway,
shorn stalks and industrial silos
sliding. I hit the rumble strip
and pull off at the ShurFine for air.
Dry flakes swirling in the fluorescent
overheads, the lot choked with cars.
No pain, he said, until later.<

Edgar Kunz is a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. His poems appear in AGNI, Narrative, New England Review, Gulf Coast, and other places.

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