The man who builds a factory builds a temple, that the man who works there, worships there, And to each is due, not scorn and blame, but reverence and praise.
Blessed are the hands who punched time clocks;
for out of their diligence came temples lining the lake sky,
presses that ran: repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat;
workers taping and greasing up their faces, necks, wrists, ankles,
keeping the milkweed fluff of fiberglass from entering their pores;
roaring ovens with steam and fumes so hot---hell-fire would be better:
A mini-Bhopal of gas explosions, accidents, waste
filling the lakes and streams, grey clouds on beaches
prompting signs that read: Not safe to swim---and only a superfund
could save them, too late for some from years of toxins, death in the lungs.
Out of the strain of sweatshops, out of the struggle of mill and machine,
hallowed stockpiles of coal out, iron ore in, along the bridged shore;
warehouse, foundry, train depot and water plant.
Out of the belly of ovens---metal, plastic grinding,
flashing---out of that dark womb came usable things:
Fiberglass bodies of Corvettes and Avantis others drove,
round yellow tub scraps brought home for children’s gulf polliwogs and crawdads,
makeshift swimming pools shaped from discarded Jeep tops.
Out of the factory grind came coffins to bury loved ones in.
Out of the toil -- paid bills, ranch homes, songs on Sunday; grilled blue pike
now extinct from DDT’s; late night high life drinking local beer on Bridge Street
and toasting the concrete temples that fed them, housed them, amused them.
For out of that labor came a usable world:
rejects of car bodies turned into sleds that children would one day learn to steer:
down, down, down the uncertain hills,
past corners molded and shaped --- and never held again so near.