Field Trip To The Rolling Mills, 1950

Sister Monica has her hands full
timing the climbs to the catwalk
so the fourth-graders are lined up
before the next heat is tapped, " and no
giggling no jostling, you monkeys!
So close to the edge!"She passes out
sourballs for bribes, not liking
the smile on the foreman's face,
the way he pulls at his cap,
he's not Catholic.Protestant madness,
these field trips, this hanging from catwalks
suspended over an open hearth.

Sister Monica understands Hell
to be like this.If overhead cranes clawing
their way through layers of dark air
grew leathery wings and flew screeching
at them, it wouldn't surprise her.
And the three warning blasts,
the blazing orange heat pouring out
liquid fire like Devil's soup
doesn't surprise her?-she understands
Industry and Capitol and Labor,
the Protestant Trinity.That is why
she trembles here, the children clinging
to her as she watches them learn their future.

by Patricia Dobler

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