we measure time in breaths
the swing of rusty gates
and the tune of the stonecutter’s chisel.

The ground gives birth.
The ground gives death.

no longer in their place
beside the door
speak the language of coal dust.

We are iron.
We are candle smoke.

Charles O’Hay is the recipient of a 1995 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowship in poetry. His poems have appeared in over 100 publications, both in print and online, including Cortland Review, New YorkQuarterly , Gargoyle, and West Branch.

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