Returns

BY CARL L. BANKSTON III

I opened the door to the blacksmith shop with care
since the hinges, pock-marked and encrusted
with rust, were almost more than the frame could bear.

There was no floor. I walked on dust instead.
Tools turning to dust were everywhere
scattered in my great-grandfather’s shed.

Horseshoes, the pincers that held them in the fire,
then laid them on the anvil, glowing red,
had now cooled together a hundred years.

A hammer sat on its cylindrical head,
long wooden handle projecting in the air,
waiting, still propped against the anvil’s side,

to be lifted by the hand that dropped it there,
the hand that worked the bellows, now long rotted.
I pumped it and the ashes barely stirred.

Hearing the rustle of leaves, I turned my head.
At my back, in the half-open door, the sunlight edged
between the darkness here and the brightness there,
like the blacksmith’s face, peering back from the dead
at the shadows left behind – his works, his heir.


The Moral Liberal Sociology Editor, Carl L. Bankston III is Professor of Sociology at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. He is the author and co-author of a number of books and numerous articles published in academic journals. An incomplete list of his books includes: Growing Up American: How Vietnamese Children Adapt to Life in the United States (with Min Zhou, 1998), Blue Collar Bayou: Louisiana Cajuns in the New Economy of Ethnicity (with Jacques Henry, 2002), and A Troubled Dream: The Promise and Failure of School Desegregation in Louisiana (2002), Forced to Fail: The Paradox of School Desegregation (hardback, 2005; paperback, 2007), and Public Education – America’s Civil Religion: A Social History (2009) (all with Stephen J. Caldas). View Professor Bankston’s full bio, here. He blogs at Can These Bones Live?


Copyright © 2011 Carl L. Bankston III.


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