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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 13, Number 1, March 2019
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Gary LeBel
Cumming, Georgia, USA


In wintertime

                        the steel was cold and had a deep, blunt ring to it when you beat it into shape with a ten-pounder. Often you had to shovel your parts clean of the previous night's snow and ice to find their pedigree, to continue building what it was you were building, assembling the thing by blueprint in a time when they were actually blue.

And on such winter mornings when the broad river seemed little more than a long scumbled brushstroke of jet, the boss's veined and purpled face would make its rounds leaving the stink of whiskey behind him in short white puffs. Young then, I had no idea what made men drink for anything but sport or a bit of confidence.

In the tin shop behind the docks, my father would by then have been immersed in a glow of heliarc. Just knowing he was there made the place less dreary, like bootlaces loosened so your feet can breathe.

The men that scampered like mice over the ship's icy decks are all gone now, figures in an old sepia print, including the man in the tin shop who, at five-feet-four, stood tall among even the loftiest of riggers that manned the skyhooks, shackles and slings.

And when the time-clock's last tick tripped the whistle, its shrill detonation would race down your spine with a scream of freedom.

Through the summer months I would often turn to watch as my young manhood swam upriver while I labored in the heat and ear-splitting noise, the swaying lilt of the pines on the other shore dreaming a summer dream without me.

But my father once said, or perhaps he implied,

"Think well of what you were
but even more of what you are,
and with a touch of levity
tip the scales to balance both
with a counterweight of pride."

Grenada, MS
May 3, 2016

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