My Father's Story

The blast furnaces dead, the cities dark,
the iron and ice ringing underfoot
but ringing for nothing, all for nothing,
no light in any house but kerosene,
the Depression a huge fact, a frozen hump
he couldn’t get over or around,
the primitive helplessness
of his parents—outraged,
the young man leaves to cut
ice on the pond, 40¢ an hour,
his bucksaw biting deep
into another man’s property.
If he can’t shape steel
he will sheathe these blocks
in yellow sawdust and lay them up
against the coming heat.
The ice at least will have
its occupation: in July, sweating
his sweat, oozing its wet golden drops
onto the ice house floor.

:: Patricia Dobler, Talking to Strangers (1986)

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