A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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December 2008, vol 4 no 4

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J.L. Carey jr.


Estranged Union

It was early morning, 6:30, windshield wipers set on low and still dark when I arrived to work. Tired, I fumbled in my pants pockets for the worn-out badge I needed to get through the turn-styles. Overhead lamps blazed, illuminating the painted pedestrian walkway of the four lane road I crossed each morning. Today I fumbled though, searching for the badge amidst my keys, thumb-drives, old receipts and change. It was as I searched, head down, blue hood donned in a light mist that I noticed an old rusty cog. The cog had somehow managed itself out into the road and now was wedged down in a crack in the asphalt.

I stood for a moment looking at it, my hands moving in my pockets, and I noticed the cogs precarious position, its inevitability, that it was lost. It would continue to work itself further into the fissure in the road until one day it would be covered. Any purpose it served was over now, as I pulled the badge from my pocket and continued to the gate.

Old cog in a crack
The road opened while it worked —
A curious plot

It was an odd day at work. The gloom inside the plant mirrored the gloom outside. Around 900 people were forced into retirement and were all leaving today. When I went outside to go home the sidewalk was filled with shoes and boots. It is a tradition at Willowrun to leave your shoes on the sidewalk when you retire. Today it looked like a strange field of unnatural flowers had sprung up through the pavement. It also reminded me of an elephant graveyard, as if all of the footwear had gone there to die.

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