The world doesn’t end

We were so poor I had to take the place of the bait in the mousetrap.

Charles Simic, The World Doesn’t End

The Queen of Noisy Things says she misses the quiet. Everyone clamors agreement. Well, almost everyone.

The president of a small company whose one plant is far from the action says, We can only compete by focusing on quality. That’s the burden this isolated location has visited on us. In return, our workers get quality of life, close to the land. The plant sits a few miles from the exact center of the country. What could be more convenient? If you stand facing north, the sound of the ocean is just about the same in either ear.

The queen muses. It can crush you, that quiet. Hanging from a rope inside a crevasse in a glacier, out of the howling wind, hearing a sudden creak from deep in the ice: an extra shiver. Or in the silence after love, with the pounding of the blood slowly diminishing in the ears. So much tenderness, a single word could ruin everything.

The plant burned to the ground. The next day, everyone showed up as usual. The president, himself a line-worker then, remembers how the workers had to first draw up their own templates. In the temporary absence of everything but faith, without the clamor of machines to come between them, they pulled together. Production resumed within a month. The fire lived on in the workers’ bellies.

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