Vox Populi

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Sharon Fagan McDermott: On Time Passing

…and when I closed my eyes a world of everything 

sprouted from the ruins of moonlight

 ~Sophia Nicholls

.

  1. The Ruins

That which has collapsed, degraded, turned half to dust

does not attract me. And yet, I wander through the rusting bulk

of Carrie Furnace and reach toward the ghosts of

Eastern European men who worked with fire

and molten ore for pennies a day to build the Empire

State Building and railroad tracks across the wide prairies.

They were boot-tips away from death, the troughs

of boiling ore. One single misstep away from everything lost.

Now there’s rust, graffiti; saplings sprout from stalled coal cars.

And the Monongahela River glints through windows busted out.

River’s trying to recover its river self again, so laden with legacy

waste of a country that feverishly built itself grander, larger,

so much damn progress. Across the fields of golden grass,

the Hot Metal Bridge is emptied, still, out of work,

out of use, out of time beneath a winter sun.

.

  1. The Moon

I have no squabbles with the moon, resist the popular urge to see it

as a worn-out trope for 19th-century poets with doilies on their tables.

Remarkably, it’s not a ruin. Distance kept it relatively safe from us

our grabs, our greedy claims, our righteous entitlement. We think

since Adam named it all eons ago, that meant we were superior.  

And still the moon shows up night after night, a generation comes

and goes and then another and still its shadowed valleys shine

their headlight from the sky. The moon traffics in consolation

and yes, romance. Or at least, in winter skies where it is

a silver swipe no brighter than old Venus dangling

like a pendant underneath. A small, consistent gift

for a shambled world that’s here. Despite it all, still here.

.

  1. From the Ruins of Moonlight 

comes a hymn, soft and shimmering, like the fox arising from a foggy

valley looking like a small sunrise on a hilltop. A hymn that does not ask

for anything nor need proof in order to get on with

the labor of living. Half in love with Earth,

half in love with the old, hard work of hope.


Copyright 2022 Sharon Fagan McDermott

Sharon Fagan McDermott books include Life Without Furniture (Jacar, 2018).

Custom metal furnace (photo: Taylor and Fenn)

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