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Searching For Pittsburgh

 The fox pushes softly, blindly through me at night, 
between the liver and the stomach.
Comes to the heart and hesitates.
Considers and then goes around it.
Trying to escape the mildness of our violent world.
Goes deeper, searching for what remains of Pittsburgh in me.
The rusting mills sprawled gigantically along three rivers.
The authority of them.
The gritty alleys where we played every evening were stained pink by the inferno always surging in the sky, as though Christ and the Father were still fashioning the Earth.
Locomotives driving through the cold rain, lordly and bestial in their strength.
Massive water flowing morning and night throughout a city girded with ninety bridges.
Sumptuous-shouldered, sleek-thighed, obstinate and majestic, unquenchable.
All grip and flood, mighty sucking and deep-rooted grace.
A city of brick and tired wood.
Ox and sovereign spirit.
Primitive Pittsburgh.
Winter month after month telling of death.
The beauty forcing us as much as harshness.
Our spirits forged in that wilderness, our minds forged by the heart.
Making together a consequence of America.
The fox watched me build my Pittsburgh again and again.
In Paris afternoons on Buttes-Chaumont.
On Greek islands with their fields of stone.
In beds with women, sometimes, amid their gentleness.
Now the fox will live in our ruined house.
My tomatoes grow ripe among weeds and the sound of water.
In this happy place my serious heart has made.

Poem by Jack Gilbert
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