Pittsburgh, Pa. 1955

Judith Galardi © 2013

Soot on the stoop
bad breath from the mill in the valley,
I scoop some up
rub it between my hands
like a millworker
trying to rub it in
hoping it will stick
between my fingers
down to the cracks in my skin
in my cuts
like it does in the cuts, holes, scrapes,
dents of the houses
clothes of the millworker.
I run it through my hair
I'm eight years old.

The trollies are the heartbeat —
Ker-chunk! Ker-chunk! Ker-chunk!
You can feel them coming when you walk
They make me a part of the city.
Shake, rattle, and roll!

I rub the soot into my clothes
here I come, out of the mill
I am part of the city
as the black chalk-wind writes the names
of the millworkers
on the clouds.

I want to work in the hottest spot
where the steel melts & bubbles & pours
the melt shop —
not the malt shop — nyah nyah!

Sweat turns to molten steel
I will become the highest steel beam
The lowest trolley track
I want to be a millworker!

 © 2013, Judith Galardi

Judith Galardi is a writer, poet, illustrator, and author of three books and a chapbook.


The 45-Inch Mill

The 45-Inch Mill
Constructed in 1942 as part of Homestead's World War II expansion, the 45-inch mill was in operation until the early 1980s.