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MAGNETIC NORTH/Robert Gibb I The scale of the machine those nights, Hard above us like the sky: one weld And then another where fire poured Into shapes, the great sheds vast As hangars placed end to end, Cranes in the rigging of their girders. Three miles of the river. Three shifts In which to raise up Leviathan, Daily, from tons of battered earth. Common labor or miUwright, you could Feel heat shimmering on your face Twenty feet from the ovens, see Dark shale dancing upon the backs Of slabs. You could watch as almost Molten metals were being rolled into Finished lengths of plate. Everything There fed the flames except what came Burning from them, the night sky Glittering Uke a coal seam, blast Furnaces and open hearths glowering Through clouds of smoke. "Metal from Heaven," the Sumerians called iron, Meteoric, fallen onto the ground. In Homestead it was ore, oxides or Salts of the metal, or sintered out Of pig. It was steel when you added Carbon and were ready to tap the heat. The Missouri Review · 233 p As though any return were a kind Of arrival in time and the past a place I could walk through, I keep expecting To find Joe Derry's father at his post, There in front of First Federal, Blind face*shining above the till Of his cigar box and cup filled with Pencils. Where around the corner From him, on Amity Street, The gate to the mills is still standing, The blast furnaces and casting sheds In which my grandfather plunged Like an angel, his body broken And on fire. I keep thinking FU find The trolleys shuttling beneath Their singe of sky, the molten cars Rattling across the Hot Metal Bridge. Yesterday I even searched for hours In the face of a man, grown saUowSkinned and balding, for the friend I used to know, and never found him. What happened to the High School In which we jostled against each other Because a world was beginning Just for us? The Leona Theater, In whose arced, voluptuous darkness Curtains parted for us like the sea? 234 · The Missouri Review Robert Gibb Ill I used to lean my back there against A corrugated waU which now is only A rippling in the light, face the river, And eat my lunch at 4 A.M., mill fires Ruddying the skies. I'd watch as red Shifts of tail-lights angled north Across the humming trestles Of the High Level Bridge, Eager to join them, and did. Now, row homes and sidewalks Buckling on the hiU, this is stiU The most magnetic of my norths, Though it's hard to even pass among The ruins of Seventh Avenue, houses Halved at their wallpaper, side lots Strewn with rubbish, or sit listening To talk about jerry-buUt jobs Which steelworkers cobbled together, Good weeks when they found some— The mills left to the rats at last, The blood-hued lupus of rust, Winds which empty through the weedy Flats there along the river: Full circle from when they plowed The old wards under in 1941, Making way for the expanding plant And coming post-war boom. Robert Gibb The Missouri Review · 235 TV Now Snow's Tavern is gone, where I drank iUegal draughts at midnight, After work, and the trolley island I paced upon in Eighth Avenue, Watching the sparse cars pass. The troUeys are gone, along with Those tracks we learned to cross, Riding our clattering bikes. They tore down St. Mark's Church, Its weathervane from which the cock Crowed daily for the morning star. Marks Card Shop is vacant, where I ogled like the elders at Susanna, Peering furtively through the pages Of Venus magazine. Even WAMO Has long since left the vaUey Whose radios pulsed nightly with The Moonglows and Del-Vikings, The Flamingos' plangent shimmer In "I Only Have Eyes For You." The post office my Uncle Arch ran, Resplendent among his ink pads And stamps, became the local lock-up The Tindal Building burned down, And the Homestead Daily Messenger, Rending our past into mangled type And the drenched stench of ashes. The Big Shop closed...


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