A red brick box that smells like smoke,
meat, and blood. The institution where
all your grandmothers’ grandmothers
learned their cuts on the town’s sharp edge.
There are three lessons to making a life
here. Everyone takes a factory job,
some lucky ones make it out later.
Your first teacher grinds her teacher
with a silver crank, out come worms
of flesh. Something new from the old
religion. Some filler, some breadcrumbs
to follow. This is the start of a life.
The second old woman stuffs casings.
She decides how long to make the links
where to twist and not to overfill
one body with too much life.
Intestines stretched thin until
they are as translucent as her teeth
or the nicotine windows.
And the last crone divides the chain
into links. Cuts and ties the guts at the end
of the chain. Piles them high
in the cart for the butcher.
He comes at the end of the week.
Orange smoke in the winter air.
A red brick box where you begin and end.
The town’s sharp edges shrinking.
Amelia Gorman is a recent transplant to Eureka, California, though “The Sausage Makers” is much more a tribute to the Midwest cities she floated between while growing up. In her free time she enjoys exploring tidepools and redwoods with her dogs and foster dogs. You can read more of her recent poetry in Vastarien and Liminality Magazine, and some of her weird fiction in Nightscript 6. Her first chapbook, Field Guide to Invasive Species of Minnesota, is available from Interstellar Flight Press