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Making It Work

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Written by Philip Levine

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 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.

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