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ISSUE:  Spring 2017

We stack wafers the length of our arms
in half-hour rotations, inspect the chocolate coats.
You’ve eaten a Kit Kat before-—at least
you’ve seen them on newsstands next to gum,
but this isn’t about the finished product.
This is about the factory, the chugging machines
cutting candy into four fingers, standing on Line 11,
watching the bars go on the conveyor belt,
hours passing into tomorrows, and then
you see your aunt through the plexiglass
going on her lunch break. You are more alert now,
because your aunt is a lifer, of course this is how
she helped you pay for college, your aunt 
with no children of her own, who wears her hairnet
while eating her own food, who keeps her safety
helmet on, takes a bath every night to scrub away
the smell of peanut butter. Your aunt is a second mother,
now you want to tell her how much you love her,
that you heard a man on the phone tell her
I love you, that you stood behind the door eavesdropping
while she said nothing back. You work overtime
with her cupping peanut butter cups, a job you didn’t want
but the work your aunt has always done, now given
to you to save for the next part of your life.
What is the next part of her life when it’s your last day
and you hang up your rubber soles, turn in the
safety glasses? You’ve never worked in a factory
before, you may never return there
or be a lifer like her, like your mother and father,
your uncles and other aunts, not because you’re smarter
or better or luckier than most,
because she doesn’t want you there and made sure.


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