23: My Father at 49, Working the Night Shift at B&R Diesel

23: My Father at 49, Working the Night Shift at B&R Diesel

My Father at 49, Working the Night Shift at B&R Diesel

by Edgar Kunz

There’s no one left to see his hands
    lifting from the engine bay, dark and gnarled
        as roots dripping river mud,

no one to see how his palms — slabs of callus
    from scouring the long throats of chimneys,
        hauling mortar and brick — move

in the fabricated light. Thumb-knuckle
    thick and white as a grub where the box-
        cutter bit. Split nail grown back

scalloped and crooked. The stitch-
    puckered skin. And when they fold into and out
        of themselves by the steaming faucet,

when they strip clean, the tap water
    running black, then copper, then clear
        into the grease-clotted drain

there’s no one to witness the slap
    of a wet rag tossed in the break-
        room sink or the champ of gravel

in the empty lot. How the stars dim
    as morning comes on. How a semi downshifts
        on the overpass and the shop windows rattle

as it goes. 

"My Father at 49, Working the Night Shift at B&R Diesel" from "Tap Out." Copyright © 2018 by Edgar Kunz. Used with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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