Sloss Furnaces, Birmingham, September 16th 1963


Puncture the mud, the iron pours out


tongue of fire, not a word


stays still but breaks along the channels


pressed in the cast floor’s sand.


Now it’s pigs suckling at the sow’s


iron teats, so many children blind


to the air and world that harden them.


A gift. Dark come on. When


the slag-man pulls the plug, fire


explodes, its violent, molten light


bathes the irons, a glow on their spines


like stained glass or twilight fades


on headstones’ crests, row on row on row