Treasure Island

B H Fairchild

(1942 - / Houston, Texas.)

Song


"Gesang ist Dasein"

A small thing done well, the steel bit paring
the cut end of the collar, lifting delicate
blue spirals of iron slowly out of lamplight

into darkness until they broke and fell
into a pool of oil and water below.
A small thing done well, my father said

so often that I tired of hearing it and lost
myself in the shop's north end, an underworld
of welders who wore black masks and stared

through smoked glass where all was midnight
except the purest spark, the blue-white arc
of the clamp and rod. Hammers made dull tunes

hacking slag, and acetylene flames cast shadows
of men against the tin roof like great birds
trapped in diminishing circles of light.

Each day was like another. I stood beside him
and watched the lathe spin on, coils of iron
climbing into dusk, the file's drone, the rasp,

and finally the honing cloth with its small song
of things done well that I would carry into sleep
and dreams of men with wings of fire and steel.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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  • Detmar Finke (3/15/2006 6:20:00 PM)

    here is a quote from an interview that fairchild did for WRITE magazine (Volume I, Issue 2, Summer 2000, Darthmouth College) : 'There is one particular poem in The Art of the Lathe where I've always known that it didn't have the right last lines, and I still haven't found the last lines. It's the poem 'Song.' It's the elegy for my father. And the last lines are 'and dreams of the men with wings of fire and steel.' It's okay - it was okay to get it published, you know. But it's just not right, I just know it's not, ' (Report) Reply

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