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Quarry Man, Roma

By William Stratton From Issue No. 1

On working days we would ride high on the back of the truck

leaning over the cab and feeling as strong as we were, pulling

hard on our bodies to load and shovel, break and stack, it seemed

we could never run out, and on cold days we worked right through

lunch to hop off early before it got too dark, and my baby and me

we could go all night at the bar and then some. I played a little harp

and she could swing and dance and make her hair lift in halos,

the music was in her and out of her in ways that made me feel sometimes

like I was seeing the bright fire of creation, like God must have

when he made Eve, the world was at once dimmer in contrast and even

the darkness jumped, towards her and away again as the men lit

smokes and the lights swung from fixtures in the wind a body makes

as it moves, and she burned and burned all night and we boys

held our moth bodies near as we could, cashing in hour by hour

the day for another bottle in the hopes it would pass her lips,

and it did, and everyone always said I knew her like no one

else, I knew when she had had enough to drink, when to take

her home and when to stand aside and let her breathe fury

into the crowd. I knew she had inside her an anger which twisted

and pulled and caught itself up in the smoke and tar and

whiskey and heroin, they told me I knew her and I was there

when they brought my baby out in the black bag, so I guess I did.

About William Stratton More From Issue No. 1