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  • Cara (DiAlesandro) Reinard

"Steel City"

A poem by Cara (DiAlesandro) Reinard.

Strong hands were mightier than the pen

In the steel city that would never die

Immigrants came from around the world

to wield molten metal infused with scrap steel

Grandfather was lucky to get a spot on the night shift

Vietnam vets who made it home lined up too

Opportunity was only one forged crank away

Work ethic smeared on blue collars

Stains that spanned generations

Undershirts with yellowed pits. Nicotine rings

Sunday dinners at Nonas

Garlic and wine and hard work squeezed through a press

Three cloves. Four? Never enough

Tongues singed with acid from homegrown tomatoes

Say a prayer before you eat

Thank God for all your blessings

Tell a tale about the depression

You are lucky, as you sit at the long table; tattered plastic tablecloths

You are lucky, as you elbow your cousin; he talks too much

Sunday is so loud with love it hurts your ears

to remember how much you miss the sound

Marry someone who can garden, Nona says

Marry someone who works with his hands, Nono says

Worth Measured in utility, utility measured in sweat

The women do the dishes. The men drink and smoke and play cards:

Poker. 500 Rummy. Everyone loses their nickels

Go to school, they say. This is all for you, Kids

They knew it wouldn’t last forever

A hometown lost to abandoned warehouses now—rehabbed apartments

Brown sodden riverbanks—made green with big banks and hospital systems

Broken glass that once housed mighty machines

Strong men now old and broken

Industry shifted overseas

Andrew Carnegie’s dream lost to

An international revolution

But the values they passed down remain as strong as the steel they once poured

Live in the apartments, they say

Work on the green grass, they say

It’s why we came

Cara Reinard is an author of domestic suspense, including Sweet Water (Thomas & Mercer), a novel based in Sewickley that reached the Amazon bestseller list in December. Her forthcoming novel, Into the Sound (Thomas & Mercer) will be released in December. Cara resides in North Pittsburgh with her husband, two children and Bernese mountain dog and is currently pursuing her MFA at Lindenwood University.

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