Henry Ford

Admiring the efficiency like shiny buttons, seeming as if their high boots never track mud, their tanks not leaving tracks but rolling the earth smooth. All the parts greased and corners rounded, some things looking almost wet with freshness, the factory sounds reduced to a smooth zip, things seeming to glide, automatic. When rats came with the coal and started chewing through wires, shitting in the lunches, it had to be done: A man came with a kind of fog in many aluminum cans, broke the seals and rolled them across the floor of the factory. When we went in after, there were dead rats everywhere in plainview; some came chokingly out of crevices, one last dash for the door, making it only a few feet into the room. Some, it seemed, fell from the ceiling, their bodies smacked on the tallest machines, then the smell of rot, then burning hair, then meat after the machines were refired and burned the ones we didn’t see. It was a problem that, over time, took care of itself. A fear of death is pure efficiency: Not only aiding in survival of the species, but wondering what’s after this must have compelled early man to strive, to think, to try to know more. Eventually becoming clever; so clever, in fact, that the parts begin to move themselves, guilt becomes a kind of math, someone knows to burn the clothes and the dead are led each morning to the place their grave will be and told to press a shovel hard into the earth.

Volume 11.2 - December 2018

MICHAEL HURLEY is from Pittsburgh. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Cincinnati Review, Sycamore Review, New Delta Review, The Massachusetts Review, Copper NickelMid-American Review, Prairie Schooner, Alaska Quarterly Review, North American Review, FIELDCrab Orchard Review, Blackbird, Washington Square Review, and elsewhere.  His chapbook, Wooden Boys, is available from Seven Kitchens Press.