Poetry: One, two, three

One two three,

By Claire

He sits. The machine is old and manual but accurate and unforgiving. He recalls the training processes and works as he was taught. Carefully place the large eyelet in the pressing die, take a tag, position it under the eyelet, hold the tag with both hands, press the pedal, clunk. The tag is spliced with a brass eyelet. One two three, one two three. Repeat the process.

The pedal is stiff and needs force from the body. His hips sway on the stool as he presses and repeats. Automation takes over as one hand after the other follows the pattern.

Place the eyelet, position the tag, press the pedal. Clunk.

Eyelet tag pedal. Clunk.

Eyelet tag pedal. Clunk.

He works to a silent tune; his movements, mechanical, robotic. This is easy. One two three, one two three, like a waltz. He sways. Wayward thoughts permeate his consciousness as he robotically works through one tag after another. One two three. One two three.

Mesmerized by repetition he drifts: the couch; the girl; the music.

The couch the girl the music.

One two three. One two three.

Soon he would ask her for her hand.

One two three. One two three.

One three clunk. Oh no!

He jumps. Mouth opens. Silence. He grabs his hand, rocks back and forth, back and forth.

Face, white; eyes, horrified; scream, anguished, ‘My finger!’

Blood, red blood. Gushing, gushing.

Work mates rushing

Tears bandages pain. Tears bandages pain.

One two three. One two three. Carefully.


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