- Crucible Steel
East Liverpool, OH
In East Liverpool, granddad breathedhis last clean breath. A black WWII vet,he breathed in a new war, quarter centuryof coke particles atop the oven—got RedLung and hair. Country drunk, poet. Coilso quiet, it rolled tons over the factory floorinto bone, crushed the new guy to death.Not every black man in our family slaved.Roosie and Alonzo, enlightened, foremengot offices away from fire. Out the mill, age 66,delimbed, men died months into retirement.The black died before the white—worst jobs.College stint, Dad pinched his thigh, clear toreflesh between harrow discs—the 4th of July,a double! Their kin: I barely know what steel is.They were good hard paying jobs for there, then.City and degree slicked, I steel my life with verse. [End Page 121]
Emily Spencer studied at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and earned an MFA in poetry from Boston University. Her poetry is upcoming in The Kenyon Review.