An interdisciplinary journal about regions, places, and cultures of the US South and their global connections
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  • At Cornwall Furnace

    Cherokee County, Alabama

    Blown out just after The War.
    The stack's granite gapes. Each year
    saplings try, as gravity has
    longer, a reclamation masonry won't allow.
    Lichens and moss do more.

    Promises of love and forevers
    mural its inside
    above constellations of beer cans and glass,
    ashes. The lid of sky's diameter
    remains the same.

    In water only yards away,
    confluence of the Coosa and Chatooga,
    mud ebbs from a bed of scoria,
    slag I can find in channels
    miles south. Algae homes in its pocks.

    The friend who has brought me here
    stands waist-deep in the rivers,
    taking pictures
    near a deadwood stump
    when her feet find something odd.

    Together we struggle from the water
    a mass of pig-iron the size of a liver.
    It's why Noble's men built it.
    Probably a product of the last blast.
    Too late. We can imagine

    the boys who mined and cut the rock,
    brought the hematite, ore, and limestone,
    the slaves
    sweating in their tunnel under the hill,
    but do not. We know what fire

    will burn here tonight, what
    fumes will rise.
    Flawless architecture of a monument.
    we heft the pig and give it back.


    Published in Murder Ballads (2005).
    Text may vary slightly from the video reading.

    Published: 7 March 2008
    © 2008 Jake Adam York and Southern Spaces