seven smart girls
smiled in unison.
“Largest food processing plant in Europe,”
Seven, holding aloft rubber tubing
like a seatbelt safety demonstration,
and plastic glove-SMACKED it;
conjuring inner workings
beneath brushed metal casings.
We flowed gloriously down the corridor
listening to rattling tin on either side,
keeping an eye
on the hats of the girls.
I was thrilled with this postcode. It couldn’t have been a better match. My study background is in Modernist and Post-Modernist literature, and I’m fascinated by everyday surrealism and unusual spaces. Food factories tick those boxes for me.
Before I started writing, I imagined my piece might be mechanical; full of the metallic clunks and clatters of the factory. I also thought about the compact dynamism of William Carlos Williams’ poem The Great Figure as well as a wonderful avant-garde image of a factory by graphic designer S. Neil Fujita created for the cover of Modern Packaging Encyclopedia in 1961.
But a little research of the site led me to a newspaper clipping of 1960s tour guides, seven, dressed in identical uniforms, with a caption of “Seven Smart Girls.” The fresh-off-the-conveyor-belt, automaton vibe seemed a natural extension of the factory itself. Writing the piece flowed quite quickly from that discovery.