About this poem:
It's interesting the things that stand out to children; the things that sear into their lifelong memories. This poem is about the factory my mother worked at that I sometimes had to be at as a 8-9 yo child. The things that struck me back then - the fish faces in the wire cages on the forklift, the hot tempers of the migrant workers, the industrial grime. And the office - quiet, clean.
Iridescent rainbows glow in the engine oil
spilled on the concrete floor. Scales of large fish
sparkle silver and blue behind a pressing grid of wired cages.
Their eyes stay open to the dusty, gray walls and pipes,
mouths poised oh! at the passing tubs of fish guts.
In my mother’s office I collect the confetti of white telex
machine perforations. Some sprinkle from my hands to lay
bright against the ocean green swirls in the waxed linoleum.
A man stabs another man with a filleting knife
in the filleting room.
My mother tells me albacore is the new chicken of the sea.
Sometimes we would leave
when the factory women were finishing.
They wore white coats like doctors
with bloodied plastic aprons and
white rubber boots,
laughing, gesturing -
now they can leave this place.