Today's poem is by Carole Simmons Oles

I Am Lowered, I Am Raised

Lead mine, Dubuque, Iowa, 1850

You know I am fearless on earth, in air—
so I venture down. The one-person
bucket lowered by pulleys is my chariot,
I climb over the rim, clutch the splintery edge.
Dark, darker, and even the lantern
hung from above cannot mimic day,
which may never salve my eyes again.
I try to stand still at the center
but despite my designs, the bucket rocks—
no cradle, but ship torn by a gale
and I feeble swimmer.
Down, further down, and the light
extinguished now. No lid covers me,
worm in a jar, and I sink
like mother's vessel lowered on ropes,
like our Helen's following after . . . I
too could be lost in insatiable
dark, where the smell
rushing off sharp walls is my own flesh.
This is my Hour of Lead.
These brittle chips scooped from the earth
mark my compact: I vow never
to sentence my body to this cavern
except refined by flames.
Ask no more. Reverse the ropes and bring me home.

Copyright © 2006 Carole Simmons Oles All rights reserved
from Waking Stone
The University of Arkansas Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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