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…and when I closed my eyes a world of everything
sprouted from the ruins of moonlight
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.
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.
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).
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