The researchers arrive, unpack boxes of
lined legal pads and number two pencils,
stand in the rafters and watch the workers below.
The workers are mothers in white aprons,
stained from working the blood pit
where the beasts fight back, and the mothers
get mad, and the meanness creeps in.
The researchers watch the mothers slit the throats
of veal calves, and spilt themselves into two.
One half stokes the scalder, the other maps
the bus route to her daughter’s soccer game.
One half checks the kill-line, the other cheers
for the home team.
The unseen twin makes the mothers whole,
gets them through the dayshift that
calls for the soul and clears the hourly wage.
But nothing tempers the shop floor din,
the screams of the beasts on the belt,
the boom of the bolt-shock to the skull.
Evenings, one twin is furloughed, while the other
washes and braids her little girl’s hair, sometimes
jerking the comb a little harder than needed.
One day, the researchers will depart with a theory.
They will clean the data, compose the report, send it out.
At night, forecasts of fame or failure will unsettle their sleep.
The mothers will clock-out, and go home to scrub-down
their daughters with sandalwood soap and sweet-orange shampoo.
At night, the clean scent of their girls will cling to their fingers,
and the boom of the bolt-shock, will resound in their dreams.
Francine Montemurro was born a Wednesday’s child in Yonkers, NY. Her poems have been included in the Paterson Literary Review, the South Florida Poetry Journal, and Celebrating Calabria: Writing Heritage and Memory. She lives in Boston with her amazing husband and her deaf Chihuahua, both of whom keep her on the straight and narrow.