warm sleepless nights walking the tracks

past the place where sweat poured tears

down backs bent to tasks 

like bad habits unbroken

totting lives counted down in heavy hours

punched on cards clocking routine in

systematic rounds through dust heat and 

musky peat rising off logs curing in brine

rolled on lathes slicing pulp into

skin-thin translucent sheets 

stacked in layers on dollies

awaiting the dryer pressing life’s essence 

into crisp slateboard slats 

recording memory in routine steps 

frozen in stasis for those 

who passed points of no return 

recourse choice or escape 

from the place where poignancy 

rings in echoes from voices of 

a thousand sons

 

David Sermersheim