ONCE I WAS TOLD THE AIR

           WAS NOT FOR BREATHING

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poems by Paola Corso

With Introduction by Michele Fazio and Michelle M. Tokarczyk  

(University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2012)

Triangle Fire Memorial Association Award

 

MAKE ROOM FOR A NEW FELLER HAND

 

hunchbacked on a stool

felling coats for fourteen hours

sitting so close to each other

she smells their breath on her face

she feels the heat of their bodies

 

hands too numb to know

the prick of a needle

eyes so close to the coat

she sees the fire in each stitch

 

on her thimble and scissors

on the needles she stuck

in the lapel of her coat

that morning before work,

 

she breathes sweating bodies

she breathes black cloth dust

she breathes the odor of open toilets

she breathes the fire in each stitch

 

she breathes in, she breathes in

 

CRANE DANCE

in memory of Francesco Antonio Corso

I.

My grandfather's crane

spanning fire

long-necked long-legged

teething moldten bone

 

He rides

with a sweatband above his brow

 

stroking its mechanical head

to drop white hot ingots into a trolley

 

He rides

its flexion in crackled air

 

to machine through

nightshiftingnight

 

II.

My grandfather's crane

spanning fire

long-necked long-legged

teething moldten bone

as he become one of those

predictions of science*

In my dream he doesn't die

I fold a thousand origami cranes

and he rides in a vim

of courtship dance, pairs of birds

whisk their wings and vault the air

high above the wintering ground

*The poem's reference is to the University of Pittsburgh School of Public

Health's study on the relationship between a steelworker's exposure to

cancer-causing agents and their mortality rate. What researchers found

was that the risk of lung cancer, leukemia, and other cancers was higher.

My grandfather was a crane operator at Allegheny Ludlum Steel in Brackenridge,

Pa for 47 years before retiring. He dided of leukemia in 1966.

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Copyright © 2020 Paola Corso. All Rights Reserved.

 pAOLA CORSO

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© 2020 by Paola Corso

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