Let us praise Fulgencia Calzada, shot
in the back of the head. Let us interrogate the bullet.
Oh, but the strikers threw a rock.
And let us praise Nick Vathias — or Vadios
or Vadlas — gunned down at the door to the strikers’ kitchen:
Praise the Union who took up a collection —
Calzada’s BB-blasted four-foot cross
is over near the fence,
though what's become of Vathias’s cross,
so we could check the spelling?
Praise the Erie Street Cemetery
that dips and rises for acres, gray slabs smack-dab
in front of black marble monuments the size
of mobile homes — a far cry
from Rose Hill where my father is buried, dead-level
cow field on the other side of town
where the Great Equalizer has stomped
the graves, heelprinting
identical flat metal plaques
and pop-up metal vases.
But behind Erie’s mausoleum, the footstones
of Section 4 are flanked by lumps and sags.
Even in death, the worst view
in town — the west border plunging
to rambling, defunct
So praise Betty — Betty, the furnace
(and Betty, my best friend in high school) —
ten million dollars, fired up
in October 1926,
“hundreds of steel men in attendance”
gaping like medieval bumpkins
at Reims Cathedral. Big Betty —
one swell Lady! —
processed 6.5 million tons of iron
before she was banked for the last time
Razed in 1974.
Praise the girders, the pilings,
the stainless pots and pans, the roller bearings,
the hand rails, the chassis, the gears,
the road signs, the crankshafts, the tankers,
the hulls, the kitchen sinks, the bread knives,
the bed springs, the train tracks,
the lorries, the DC3s —
Praise Massillon steel.
Sue D. Burton | Marry in Red
Contents | Mudlark No. 60 (2016)