The Night Foreman Sees
the Virgin Mary in Furnace #6
Chuck, the night foreman, swears she is there,
deep inside, poised against the furnace wall.
Stooping, he points, his thick finger tracing
her veil, her hands, her face. She is praying,
he says, trembling, for all of us.
Now, we all know Chuck is crazy.
Every night, armed with ball point pens and tablets,
he skulks from press to press, furnace to furnace,
muttering The Communists are taking over
but still, when he yells, we all run and look. We look
because it is a break from the stale air, a break
from the steady pulse of the presses. We look
because we have to —
We peer inside, glance at each other, shrug, turn away
but some think they see something, something more
than hot dust. Joe, the die setter, makes the sign
of the cross while Maria, from row seven
drops to her knees, her hands a tight prayer.
I turn to Julie, the new press operator,
rumored to have even gone to college. History,
I heard her say once. She leans down, squints,
her eyes watering from the furnace heat
then straightens, lighting her cigarette, biting down
hard on one end. Exhaling, she sighs, a shadow
of smoke sneaking through her tired smile.
He could’ve at least seen Mother Jones,
poems have appeared in Slipstream, Phoebe,
Nerve Cowboy, Paper Street, Labor
and The Comstock Review
forthcoming in Pennsylvania English
and the minnesota review.
She is a 2007 New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellow. (KarenWeyant@mail.sunyjcc.edu)