South of the Magic City,
where forsaken steel mills
and mountains of glass
usurp the cathedral skyline,
we ride to Appalachia's end,
where the Confederacy thought
the rich red ore could give them
a fighting chance. The furnace
stands silent, its hearths abandoned
by smithies whose rusted Midfield towers
babble the legend of hope
that starts with dissatisfied farmers'
dreams of freedom, inalienable rights,
fires them with sweat and coke so hot
it hurts to see them, shapes them
into goals, manifestos, articles
of confederation, cures them
in humid pine forests, and won't let them die
even 140 years later, flying
atop the capitol dome.
We pay our five dollars,
check the campers' map,
lock our bikes to scarred oaks,
and use lighters to start a fire--
Oscar Meyers on hangers,
Bush's Beans in cans.
Evening air pricks the hair on our arms,
fills cracks between Brighthope stones.
The monument creaks and whines.