Sunday, January 2, 2011

On the Iron Range

Image borrowed from Yahoo

On the Iron Range, Where I Tossed My First Book of Poems

I tossed my first book of poems into a trash can
outside a mine. It was a hot day – the book
stirred up yellow jackets feasting on soda cans.

So I hurried into the locker room, which we called
a "dry," because that's where our coveralls
hung from a chain in the ceiling, with the legs

outstretched like the skins of large animals –
still wet when we climbed back into them.
I worked in the mine, patrolling a rotary kiln,

the largest in the world, said the company,
All night it rolled like a great whale
in bearings the sixe of my house.

My partner told stories about the old days
when he drank at Tony's instead of going home
to sleep—and then passed out in the gray mud

under the filter floor. We laughed and talked
as the machines splattered mud all over us.
Later that winter—after the hunters

had divided the deer into neat packages
and the fishermen had begun putting wood stoves
into their ice-houses, and after the snowmobilers

had begun cruising under bridges
and into forbidden areas—I skied to the top
of an old tailings dump, where all I could see

were Spruce and Tamarack rising from the stillness
of an ocean frozen under feet of snow
all the way to Lake Superior—a silent ocean

in which I could no longer hear the crushers
gyrating boulders of iron
at the edge of the sleepy town. Then Christmas:

U.S. Steel laid us off by the thousands,
and I left the Iron Range,
where I'd tossed my first book of poems.

David Salner

Posted over on the Writer's Almanac
"On the Iron Range, Where I Tossed My First Book of Poems" by David Salner, from Working Here.

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