Press monster

I went to the press today. I’ve worked here for three years and have never been. I felt like a little girl on a field trip and shy and like I was in the wrong place with my sandals on, all the big people working there like ants covered in ink and newsprint. They know when an intruder is among them. That’s what we were – intruders through the tunnels. I give the same looks to people who walk through my office, people I’ve never seen before. I don’t trust them and I don’t know why. I have no reason other than I know they don’t belong in here.

There were arms and belts and rubber and rolls and rolls of paper – giant toilet paper rolls – but not. Rooms with yellow lights, exposures.

And then I heard it. The press itself. The heart humming. So fast it pushed and beat and beat and beat. The sound of a monster breathing. I wanted to linger to listen to his heart. Most of the people wear earplugs. I wanted to hear it ears wide open. I wanted to hear him running.

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4 Responses to Press monster

  1. Penny says:

    That’s something I’d love to see sometime – the beating heart of print.

  2. rachvb says:

    It’s pretty awesome. How fast it all moves. All the thumping and humming. They’re so heavy like trains.

  3. Hi Rachel – printing presses are like locomotives, yes. The weight of them, all those complex parts. I admire the technicians who tend to them, so tuned into each machine’s hum they can tell from the slightest change on timbre if ink needs topping up, a belt needs oiling, the paper feeder needs attention. I had the great joy and privilege of being invited into the press room when my first poetry collection went to print. I cried. I know just what you mean about the heart’s humming. Thank you for taking me back to that moment – and I’m happy for that you had this experience. Sometimes, apparent monsters are in fact gentle beasts? L, C.

  4. rachvb says:

    I went to Ohio once for work to watch the presses on a book we were printing. What a warehouse of a place – all the machines and ink smells and glue. I’d wake every 4 hours to check the quality, like into the night every 4 hours – they were printing for a straight 24. It was like waiting for something to be born.
    I would cry too if I saw the first book of mine being published – talk about watching something being born. I hope someday I get the experience to see that. Gentle beasts indeed.

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