A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
I have come a thousand miles
for this. J&L’s ruins, a gravel plain
on the Ohio’s west bank. There’s little
left but an archeology of memory—smokestacks,
ovens, foundry, smelter, slag. Someone
might ask what happened here? What brought
this culture to ruin? Drought? Pox?
Broken dreams? Who lived in ash
and cinder at the base of the great fires?
What twisted iron to scrap and left it to rust?
My inventory: butts, pull tabs, bolts, washers,
pencil stubs, bottle caps, screws, nails,
bones, rubbers, keys, our lives. I drop
a tarnished watch fob and broken penknife
in my pack and walk away.
Included in Vox Populi by permission of the publisher