Archive > Vol. X no. Z
Jeanne Marie Beaumont
Within my capacious upper arm, a cooper bangs
staves of a barrel. He can bend, the story goes,
bands of iron barehanded. That now-and-then pin-
prick in my lower gut’s from a tailoring couple who
stitched themselves up in thick coats, vanished to
Credit the cornice maker for my steely posture,
my uncanny balance with shut eyes. Able hands.
Shoemakers, buttonmakers, mechanics, pipefitters,
and clerks. A cashier rings up my fingers as register
bells pulse my wrists. When flu-epidemic ghosts
through my heart, my book-keepers enumerate
each one. I’ve locked the piano tuner up in my ear.
But a salesman possesses my mouth and pressures
my smiles, I freely confess — for stenographers abound
to take it all down. As for the veterans who march
my feet, the brash one spurs my heel, the gassed one
maddens my sole. One paper bag maker stays home
in my lungs and conspires with seamer of chamois,
with knitter of caps. Don’t be so timid, these timid say.
Who never marry. Who live to bury. And after my
goes out with the team driver, it transfers via streetcar
conductor and tall chauffeur. But the largest cadre by far
are the mill hands who toil midst the heat of my brain:
carders, weavers, dryers, finishers, and the fixer of looms—
bless that fixer — and the multitudes I lose in the
gloaming . . .
How dim it grows now in those uppermost stories.