Marvin Lurie

Steel Worker (After a painting by JWJ)

Shadowy great cathedral
of cauldrons and mills, catwalks and cranes.
Celestory windows cast streams of smoke-filtered light.

Stories-high furnace with mouth of a volcano
spews molten steel.
Incandescent air flares yellow and white.
Asbestos-clad, masked steel worker,
in service to the machine, controlling fire,
as in an earliest act of Man the Maker,
transformed beyond the grasp of that ancestor
who first watched metal rivulets run out of burning stone,
took it to make tools to conquer his world.
Here magnified to 95,000 tons a month
of angles, channels and rails, H beams and I beams
by workers in jobs long gone,
the furnaces long cold,
the communities broken and poor,
since wealth left and took away its steel.

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