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‘[50] Tin’ first appeared in Tricia Dearborn's Autobiochemistry (UWAP, 2019).

tin (Sn), a chemical element belonging to the carbon family - periodic table
I turn to pick up four empty cans,

turn to place them

on the narrow conveyor belt.


The cans are steel, plated with tin.

Pure tin, when deformed,

makes a sound — the ‘tin cry’.


It will do this over and over

until it snaps. Another day,

another line. I check the code


on the top of each can.

Reject the non-conformers

and the dented, where tin’s


crucial seal might be ruptured.

Three times a day

the machines grind to silence.


While others seek coffee,

sustenance, chat,

I chain smoke in the toilet.


Next year I’ll implode. My life’s

shiny surface breached,

revealing the old corrosion.

Feature image: Den Hartogh Ford Museum. Albert Wijnberg Olie-import, by Alf van Beem