Believing in Iron
by Yusef Komunyakaa
The hills my brothers & I created
Never balanced, & it took years
To discover how the world worked.
We could look at a tree of blackbirds
& tell you how many were there,
But with the scrap dealer
Our math was always off.
Weeks of lifting & grunting
Never added up to much,
But we couldn't stop
Believing in iron.
Abandoned trucks & cars
Were held to the ground
By thick, nostalgic fingers of vines
Strong as a dozen sharecroppers.
We'd return with our wheelbarrow
Groaning under a new load,
Yet tiger lilies lived better
In their languid, August domain.
Among paper & Coke bottles
Foundry smoke erased sunsets,
& we couldn't believe iron
Left men bent so close to the earth
As if the ore under their breath
Weighed down the gray sky.
Sometimes I dreamt how our hills
Washed into a sea of metal,
How it all became an anchor
For a warship or bomber
Out over trees with blooms
Too red to look at.
Life is short on poetry these days. Poetry lets words be more than words. It lets them be images and emotions and rhythms. That's why I like to read poems. But, sometimes, I read something and think to myself, "I will never write anything that perfect." Nearly every line in this poem caused me to think that. Particularly "As if the ore under their breath/Weighed down the gray sky."
It should depress me, that feeling that I will never create something so great. Instead, I let it inspire me.
Poem Number 3 here.