Night Moves, and: First Day, and: At the Steelworkers' Monument During the 100th Anniversary of the Homestead Strike of 1892, and: The Employments of Time in Homestead
- The Missouri Review
- University of Missouri
- Volume 17, Number 2, 1994
- pp. 177-185
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NIGHT MOVES /Robert Gibb Warm nights we'd park the car There across the river where Saline Street stopped, the boat Ramp vanished into the black Lapping oUs of those waters. Stripped clear to our skivvies, We'd pick our way past beer cans And wrappers, pale rubbers Floating at the shoreUne like SmaU dead fish, and sUp into That body of darkness buoying Us up, out beneath the shadows Of the bridge. Fires from Mesta And U.S. Steel flickered upon The bUlows, the stars burning Above us, a gUttering cold city In the air. We churned slowly In place in that warm vein, FeeUng the big bones of the body Lighten and rise, our hair Seining night like a net. Td Uke to swim out again, alone Like taking coup, to the first Stone abutment of the bridge, And come back, my eyes on fire With moordight spiUing from The shapes of girls as they change Into women, there on the shore. I'd Uke to hear her tell me That her nipples were just Uke Mine, and sink into that Egypt Once more, the barges beyond us Freighting their coals, the mUls Like burning foothiUs. The Missouri Review · 177 FIRST DAY /Robert Gibb Stall astonished to be starting Work at twelve o'clock at night, I passed through the dark streets By the river, that first Sunday In another Ufe, carrying my lunchBox and steel-toed shoes toward Those enormous ovens I'd be Laboring beneath till morning. Left alone below the null floor, I shoveled shale into the waters Rushing beyond me Uke an opened Main, and could hear above me The shear and clamor of metals, Crane whistles, ingots thundering Along their beds to be roUed Through a series of presses. I learned that day how time ran In the gears and drive-trains Of machinery, how time burned Inside furnaces in the great fires Of creation and spread out evenly In sheets of steel. That night, For the first time, I counted The hours coming on, one by one, And passed through them without Sleep. FinaUy, that morning, I watched the sun bloom in a sky FiUed with mill smoke and Sparrows rising from their baths Of dust, the blue fuse of ozone From the wires above the troUeys. I learned how each new day Was a promise Ught made to dust Before breaking, which the river Took with it and emptied downstream. How the streets were a promise, And the surge of current through 178 · The Missouri Review The Une—a song that the blood, The humming wires, would take up Again with each new morning, Just as though it were the first. Robert Gibb The Missouri Review · 179 AT THE STEELWORKERS' MONUMENT DURING THE IOOTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE HOMESTEAD STRIKE OF 1892 /Robert Gibb I Across from the castings, On Eighth and West, I stop Before the granite shaft And read the crisp, blocked Inscription honoring The workers who were slain In Homestead by hirelings, A century ago. Once again, I stare at that figure Incised before the furnace Door, his slender lever Slanting into the fire, The corona spilling over Like a ladle, teeming The tapped steel into molds. ? Years from now, it wUl Read Uke glyphs of a codex TelUng the story of steel, How the ingots were soaked In their heating pits, Then roUed into shapes In a slabbing miU, fitted And finished into plate. Stationed on the landing Before the open oven doors, 180 · The Missouri Review I swept the slabs clean Of shale with an ordinary Broom, hard by those flames From which the world I knew Was cast molten into place. Robert Gibb The Missouri Review · 181 THE EMPLOYMENTS OF TIME IN HOMESTEAD / Robert Gibb 1 According to the haphazard loom Of heaven, or something in the air, The maU gets shoved up under The brass flap of the slot anytime Between morning and the shadows Of afternoon. I'll have finished At my desk or not, depending on The rhythms, then prowled through The rooms before walking out back To kneel among the new green leaves Of the garden, or, today, watching That mouse on...