Third shift at the night factory
assembles the simple, elegant machine of night.
Workers, like figures in a shadow play,
hammer the fitted parts home,
extend the handle of a wrench with a pipe,
and brace a foot against the stubborn bolt.
Engineers pour over the schematics of the moon
trembling on the surface of oil in open buckets.
In the last of the dark hours,
welders extinguish their torches
while the foreman inspects the welds
with a candle held behind the seams.
Pinholes in the bead or casting
fill the factory with starlight,
a constellation of flaws, a myth and map of stars
we made to find our way out.
Queued at the gate and parting
at the whistle into morning,
shift workers call to each other:
‘night, see ya, so long, take care
Stephen Frech has earned degrees from Northwestern University, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Cincinnati. He has published three volumes of poetry: Toward Evening and the Day Far Spent (Kent State UP), If Not For These Wrinkles of Darkness (White Pine Press), and The Dark Villages of Childhood (Midwest Writing Center) His fourth volume titled A Palace of Strangers is No City, a sustained narrative of prose poetry/flash fiction, has been published by Cervena Barva Press. He published a translation of poetry from the Dutch: Menno Wigman’s Zwart als kaviaar/Black as Caviar. He is founder and editor of Oneiros Press, publisher of limited edition, letterpress poetry broadsides. Oneiros broadsides have been purchased by special collections libraries around the world, among them the Newberry Library (Chicago), the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the University of Amsterdam Print Collection. Stephen Frech is Professor of English at Millikin University