Ohatchee, Alabama
Jake Adam York

Hidden like a sentry,
the furnace blooms
with sumac, crawls with lizards.
It smokes off rain so hard

you can hear them breathe,
one breath lifting granite,
pulling coal, the hundred hands
digging wells in the hill

where the forge-works rust,
above, where their graves
hoard irons all their own
and take on water just in case.

From there, I could jump
to the stack’s jagged rim
and stare down the barrel
to this crossroads of light

and fable a blast or
count saplings to predict its fall.
But here, where the tuyeres draw wind
to spin the rumor of fire

and the crucible sings like a shell
the edge seems years away.
The smoke never clears.
The stones stay warm to the touch.

Maybe, if rain could wake the Coosa
to flood this wild, to roll
the stone beneath the slag and clay again,
maybe then, we’d have a chance.

But the clouds move on.
The thunder’s gone to Georgia.
A mud bloom cools
in the hearth’s debris

and a copperhead coils from the brash,
bright as molten iron.
I ease back, and breathe,
grasping at sumacs,

ready to turn and run.
And when I do I pull
to feel them give,
to feel their blisters break.
Originally appeared in Southern Review

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