Believing in Iron
The hills my brothers & I created Never balanced, & it took years To discover how the world worked. We could look at a tree of blackbirds & tell you how many were there, But with the scrap dealer Our math was always off. Weeks of lifting & grunting Never added up to much, But we couldn't stop Believing in iron. Abandoned trucks & cars Were held to the ground By thick, nostalgic fingers of vines Strong as a dozen sharecroppers. We'd return with our wheelbarrow Groaning under a new load, Yet tiger lilies lived better In their languid, August domain. Among paper & Coke bottles Foundry smoke erased sunsets, & we couldn't believe iron Left men bent so close to the earth As if the ore under their breath Weighed down the gray sky. Sometimes I dreamt how our hills Washed into a sea of metal, How it all became an anchor For a warship or bomber Out over trees with blooms Too red to look at.
From Magic City by Yusef Komunyakaa, published by Wesleyan University Press. Copyright © 1992 by Yusef Komunyakaa. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press. All rights reserved.