By David Salner
After the painting by George Bellows, 1909
A whistle stills the site, hushes
the whine and hum of cables.
Powder settles through the cyan light
into the quiet air of coffee break.
Someone tosses up a thermos,
which he catches in a blistered hand—
this man who sits upon the rock
he will destroy. He unscrews the top
and something swirls into the air,
heat vapors from a battered cup.
The stillness of this moment—
a mix of silica, a blur of fumes—
hovers above this crater
in the granite heart of town.
He sips the coffee, harsh and black,
the bitterness all his, tries to expand
this moment, savor the endlessness.
The whistle that will send him back to work
and break the day to shards of jagged light
seems an eternity away.
David Salner’s writing appears in upcoming issues of North American Review, Atlanta Review, River Styx, Magma, Tupelo Quarterly, and Salmagundi. His second book is Working Here (Rooster Hill Press, 2010). He worked for 25 years as an iron ore miner, a steelworker, and a general laborer.