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The Rosehead Nail

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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

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The Rosehead Nail

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