Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (Issue 26, February 2013—Tribute to Jake Adam York)

Tribute to Jake Adam York

Carrie Chappell
for Birmingham Steel and Iron Company

When they cast his body out of pig iron, and shipped

him to St. Louis for assemblage, his legs and feet

arriving separate from his head, Giuseppe Morretti

there to supervise his piecing together, the Cahaba

River nearby to christen his iron-clad head, they did not

ship you too. He came back, while we slept, to lay on the tracks

for eighteen months, until they found a pedestal. Finally,

they erected him on Red Mountain, while we watched.

Without Morretti’s hand, Vulcan’s hands were put on

backwards. He could not hold his spear. Still, he was

strong to us, used in city commercials, sometimes holding

an ice cream cone, a pickle sign, a Coca-Cola bottle, sporting

once a pair of overalls. While you mined the hills, they brushed

him in milky flesh tones. While you perished as our major industry,

they filled his body with concrete to anchor him in the sky. The years

took their time, and the forties happened. There was traffic: a torch

installed on his spear that shone red to signal fatalities on the road,

there between the shade’s crest and transmission tower. When 1999

unfurled its fears, we called him a safety hazard, feared his collapse

atop Red Mountain, where once you, rust-faced, had dug him up.