By Luanne Castle

June 2, 2014


I wouldn't be here if my father hadn't sent me in his place. Under the insistent fluorescents and amid the smell of machine grease, a small forklift truck operates to the left, and ahead of me, a couple of men in overalls finger the cigarette packs in their pockets as they chat.

At the window, a man in a dirty welder’s cap looks up from his clipboard. I explain that I have come to look at scrap metal. Small things, cast offs. Junk yard trash. This isn't my kind of place. I like silk blouses and almond orchards in full bloom.

The man motions for me to follow him. Scrap has been sorted into trash bins by type. He points. “This here’s small gears, then the medium gears in here, and the large gears next to that.” 

After sifting through the gears, I notice the faucet handles, with their lacy patterns, arranged by size. Then various pieces of tubing and joints, hinges and brackets, bolts, screws, rivets, valves, bushings, wire by thickness, and small pieces of sheet metal all arranged by metal type. Aluminum, stainless steel, steel, yellow brass, red brass, iron, cast iron, tin, copper, and insulated copper. The patterns created by someone sorting them by likeness electrify me with a shiver. I’m inexplicably touched by the riches. 

Dad can use these heart-shaped brackets. The metal fan blades will work as petals for one of his flower sculptures. I grab a shopping cart and begin to fill it.


Photo "scrapyard blues" provided by underground bastard, via Flickr creative commons license.

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