Jake Adam York

They bring it up in chains,
rusted dark as mud,
and the bore shoots water
till right. The whole crowd scatters,
convinced itís charged. 
Scientists wave it over, unalarmed.
A whistle blows, and a shift
of steelworkers turns from the river, 
amazed the Rebel cannon lay
so close, just feet below
when they swam, slow nights, 
the water hot, metallic,
iron biting at their tongues,
so close they could have kicked it. 
At dark, blue flame 
rises from the gas-plant,
painting everything with its glow,
and the furnace crew perches 
to watch the river steam. 
One by one, they rise 
to trawl the bank, tracing 
exhaust upstream and down. 
The others sit on the rails, 
still warm, like the test-irons 
they worry in their hands,
thinking how the metal smells,
how dear it holds
whatever heat you give.
Originally appeared in Louisiana Literature

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