The Industrialization of John Young's Town

The lush green acres where once you stood
have since sprouted stacks of smoke.
Like calliopes, their notes rise
in colorful clouds over the valley,
hovering reminders on the horizon,
that the immigrant spirit
could not be contained within.
These black silhouettes
against the sun-filled skies of Ohio
rained graphite on the white sheets
our mothers hung out to dry.
And graphite filled our pores.
We shine from its black luster still;
while as children we thought them
to be chained to steel’s progress.
When at the time, we did not know what we do now.
They lived among the flames
So we could be born of their fire.

:: Francine M Papp, in Mahoning Valley Poetry: An Anthology (1993)

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