April 4, 2010

Fred Voss

A COUNTRY IN OUR HEARTS

On machine #5 Juan
forgets
and says, “Thank you, my friend!”
with genuine unashamed child-like joy
when I come over unasked to grab one end of the heavy vise and help him
lift it
onto his machine table.
Then he remembers
and looks around himself to see if any of the other machinists have seen
or heard him
and puts the same mask of callous indifference they all wear
back on his face.
It has been only 5 years since he left El Salvador to set foot
in America
and sometimes it is hard to keep the mask
on his face.
“Fleetwood Mac!”
he calls me
because I have long hair and a beard but no hair
on top of my head like that guy in the rock band Fleetwood Mac
and smiles
and tells me
how he likes to sit in a soft easy chair each evening after work and listen
to rock music
that knows no borders
and with our hands on wrenches
I look
over from machine #2 at him and break out
in a big beaming smile
just to show him
that when it comes to wrenches
and vises and machine tables
and the joy
still shining inside a human heart
there will never be
any borders.

from Rattle #22, Winter 2004