National Poetry Month: “Iron”

As an experiment this year, I am going to write one poem a day in honor of National Poetry Month (many of them may follow a common theme).

My first poem is titled “Iron.”

 

The red turns wine-colored upon exposure to the air.

The joint’s crack, the marrow leaks, and bruises form.

 

Roman iron was a complex creation.

It required the whole of the Empire to make.

Coal. ore. Transported on big ships from Britannia.

Open pits worked by freemen and slaves, day and night.

Rolled and cut from ingots.

Torched and flared in billow-flames.

Red hot.

Red.

Over land and sea to deliver precious cargo

for official business.

They were almost alive. Imported and exported.

Better traveled than even the wealthiest patrician.

Taxed and tallied, imported and exported.

No passport needed.

Inventory masters spending a lifetime worrying over them

his wax tablets chicken-scratched with tally marks.

All for a nail.

Nails were reused, recycled, none wasted.

A one-time use was a sin.

The poor sweating miner in Weald

breaking his back for rocks that spit out rust

could not imagine that one warm day in Jerusalem

God would be pierced by his shovel’s work.

 

 

 

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