• 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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