Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TOWERS OF SIMON RODIA; FOR HOWARD W. SWENSON 1903-1081, by KAREN SWENSON



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TOWERS OF SIMON RODIA; FOR HOWARD W. SWENSON 1903-1081, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Trapped in a tunnel
Last Line: The day he locked the door on eden.
Subject(s): Labor & Laborers; Rodia, Simon (1875-1959); Watts Towers, Los Angeles (1921-1955); Work; Workers


Trapped in a tunnel
of white tile and urinals,
my day's laboring shine
of sanitary rectangles,
I crouch against the antiseptic glare
reamed by the black roar of the train.
It engulfs me
and I wake -
the house still quivering
the smear of diesel horn
as soft as pollen on the night -
and think,
"I've dreamt my life -
tile by day and trains all night."

Air emptied of the diesel's horn
becomes so dense
with orange blossoms
you'd think it something you could weigh.
Stink of bud and fruit creation sits,
a cat upon my chest to stifle breath.
At forty,
more than half life gone,
too late to brand a name
upon my century's thigh,
I brace my arm to wrestle,
hand against my time.

I bend the rods,
and these my arching bones
I flesh with gray cement
round as a laboring arm
whose spread muscles hold taut my tattoos
made from the broken bits
of every day's bright color,
of Spanish arguments across the street.
This chipped and cracked confetti
of our lives
I manage into patterns
on these limbs which curve
like blooms of iris.

My larger flowers
enclose the smaller,
like viscera
or womb-bound children,
or an echo if it could
be held inside the voice that made it.
I built my blossoming limbs
beside the track for thirty years
until I knew,
although I might not finish them,
they had completed me.
Perhaps God felt the same
the day he locked the door on Eden.





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