Robert Gibb: Worker, Steel Mill
Photograph by W. Eugene Smith, c. 1955
Bug-eyed in those glare-filled goggles,
He’s gauntleted and cassocked, garbed
To be garbed in fire, which forms a lake
On the floor behind him and fills the doors
Of the blast furnace walled behind that.
Hamlin Garland’s “Hell with the lid off,”
It’s now bedrock for the post-war boom,
The crucible stoves melting coke
And pig iron, the stock charged
To make steel, the slag poured off . . .
Because the earth is so much raw material
The days have been divided into shifts,
The weeks into work and then what’s left.
Because the business cycle is unrelenting,
He works turns that follow the clock.
Punches in before pulleying his robes
Down from where he left them,
Halfway to heaven in the ceiling’s loft,
Dressing to take his station again,
The clotted fires fissuring their troughs.
Because of the costs of production.
Copyright 2018 Robert Gibb
For an appreciation of the work of Robert Gibb, click here.