CB Follett is the winner of the 2001 National Poetry Book Award from Salmon Run Press for At the Turning of the Light. She has published seven collections of poetry, the most recent, One Bird Falling, 2011, plus several chapbooks, the most recent being Houses, 2011. She is the publisher/editor of Arctos Press, with 15 poetry titles, was publisher and co-editor of Runes, A Review of Poetry (2000-2008). She holds seven nominations for a Pushcart Poetry Prize, plus six nominations as an individual poet and a grant in poetry from the Marin Arts Council. Her poems have appeared in many magazines and anthologies. She received contest honors in the Billee Murray Denny Prize, New Letters Prize, the Ann Stanford Prize, Glimmer Train Poetry Contest and several contests from the Poetry Society of America. She was Poet Laureate of Marin County, 2010-2012.

 

CB Follett '58

 

Shift's End


He works in a factory, on the line
where air is thick with the silt of machinery
and how it adheres to his skin, and he
looks at his hands, rubs at the grime along his knuckles,
sees the broken ridge of his nails,
the black granite underneath - a horizon of grease
from his day away from home and he
cocks his head, hearing the thrum of engines, their gears
in a meshing that keeps the belts
moving, parts marching along, a rhythm of pops, clicks
and smooth endless hums. The symphony
of his job that marks him with crescendos
he cannot put behind him, carrying them
like cymbals in his head and along his arms,
the sinews tightening on the 'pop', loosening
on the 'swish' and he drums the fingers of his right hand
into the left palm, hitting the thick
gold band he takes off every day and puts in his locker
in a suede pouch hanging inside the door. The first
thing he does when he opens his locker, takes off
the ring at the beginning of his shift, puts it
on at the end, how he knows then if it is morning or evening,
how putting on the ring makes him think of his wife and sometimes
he hesitates, ring held by thumb and forefinger
and wonders what would happen if he didn't
put it on, slipped it in his pocket, let it slide
from his fingers down the street grate. He would
unmarry himself with that lost weight.
He closes the locker door,
ring back in the little plum-colored bag—evening without it.
Would she notice—this woman
who took in his body in the shuttered bedroom
and made new mouths that looked like his?
Would she know he hadn't forgotten? Had made a step
outside the concrete walls of the assembly line, outside
the brick foundation of the apartment. How he was
in limbo between them and felt
no pulling from either strong enough to shift
his balance off center. How he moved
back and forth on the sidewalk, his head
shaking strangely, wanting to clear
the rippled pool of his thinking.

 

From VISIBLE BONES (Plain View Press, 1998)