The Rosehead Nail

By A. E. Stallings b. 1968

Blacksmithing demonstration, mountain arts and crafts fair, Monteagle, TN


“But can you forge a nail?” the blond boy asks,
And the blacksmith shoves a length of  iron rod
Deep in the coal fire cherished by the bellows
Until it glows volcanic. He was a god
Before anachronism, before the tasks
That had been craft were jobbed out to machine.
By dint of   hammer-song he makes his keen,
Raw point, and crowns utility with rose:
Quincunx of facets petaling its head.
The breeze-made-visible sidewinds. The boy’s
Blonde mother shifts and coughs. Once Work was wed
To Loveliness — sweat-faced, swarthy from soot, he
Reminds us with the old saw he employs
(And doesn’t miss a beat): “Smoke follows beauty.”

Source: Poetry (May 2013).

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This poem originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

May 2013
 A. E. Stallings

Biography

A. E. (Alicia) Stallings studied classics in Athens, Georgia and has lived since 1999 in Athens, Greece. She has published three books of poetry, Archaic Smile (1999), which won the Richard Wilbur Award; Hapax (2000); and Olives (2012). Her new verse translation of Lucretius (in rhyming fourteeners!), The Nature of Things, is published by Penguin Classics. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and . . .

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