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Making It Work

Written by: Philip Levine | Biography
 3-foot blue cannisters of nitro 
along a conveyor belt, slow fish 
speaking the language of silence. 
On the roof, I in my respirator 
patching the asbestos gas lines 
as big around as the thick waist 
of an oak tree. "These here are 
the veins of the place, stuff 
inside's the blood." We work in rain, 
heat, snow, sleet. First warm 
spring winds up from Ohio, I 
pause at the top of the ladder 
to take in the wide world reaching 
downriver and beyond. Sunlight 
dumped on standing and moving 
lines of freight cars, new fields 
of bright weeds blowing, scoured 
valleys, false mountains of coke 
and slag. At the ends of sight 
a rolling mass of clouds as dark 
as money brings the weather in.