July 2004 / Volume Five / Issue Three / Online
Linda Wandt
Fish Factory

On Monday she goes
back to work at the factory.
She works with fish,
on a disassembly line.
She guts them.
She cuts their heads off
and tries to not stare
into their bulging salmon eyes.
Salmon, by the way, are huge,
and the women around her, working also,
are huge and annoy her with
their endless chatter,
obscene jokes and gossip.
Every now and then,
as she slits open a belly,
she pretends the eyes are human
and the blood is one of her fat co-workers.
She alternates who she carves open.
Sometimes it’s Patty, or Doris.
Lately it’s been the new girl, Candy,
because her voice is high pitched,
and her laugh is grating.
When she fantasizes about Candy, she
slits the fish’s throat first.

She has no sex life, because
she smells like fish no matter what.
She endures the crude remarks everyday–
but she is saving desperately for a car
so she won’t have to take the bus anymore.

Her skin is permanently rubbed raw,
fresh and pink, everywhere,
even her face,
from industrial strength soap,
that orange powdered kind
mechanics use for grease.
She wonders at night if always
looking, and smelling like a salmon
can somehow turn you into one.
She keeps the bathtub filled with water
while she sleeps–
just in case.