Tuesday, August 14, 2007

recovering notes from the deep, part 2

when the iron ore strike began
in august 1977
i suddenly felt
a huge decompression
a liberation coming
i was out with thousands
from northern minnesota
& michigan upper peninsula
no more
swing shifts
4 a.m. getups
radio calls
for electrical troubleshooting

my kids began talking to me more
throwing the ball around
we grew

and as the picket duties
lapsed into the fall
i dusted off an old underwood typewriter
and began recalling
and observing
maybe for the first time
what was around me
or had been dormant
for years

i saw the hay fields
go to seed
and the ground freeze up
a movement of canada geese
with better formation
than our picket line

the quiet of the north woods
broke through
watching a snowshoe rabbit
run for cover
frost covering the tamarack
on frozen wet lands

still
i thought back
on the decade before
on the streets of chicago in ‘68
the un-democratic party convention
refusing induction into the u.s. army
the slippery cobblestones
from pittsburgh’s north side
and all the teenage heartbreak
jive five
still ringing from those back alleys

the alberta clippers came
my chainsaw worked overtime
to grow the wood pile
it was either that
or no heat

everything became retrospective
the new age hadn’t
emerged
and this strike was becoming
more defensive
than anything else
trying to keep up with the cost-of-living
we stayed out four months
and if nothing else
won respect

the words beaten out
on that underwood
somehow got misplaced & lost
there were some sleepless nights over that

but i guess i’ll just move on
& make up
what i don’t remember

--- e b bortz
(published in The New People, Nov 2007)

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