I went there wanting to bend steel.
Earlier today I realized the rose of Sharon had put all its might into the bulbs I trimmed off its higher branches, anxious to keep the ground at the plant’s base free of spring shoots, all the plant’s hopes for the future. Imagine that — risking everything, exposing your deepest reserves. When months ago I took the picture, I’d hoped the image would remind me of what it felt like climbing down from the bridge, standing in dead weeds a stone’s throw from the highway, hoping inspiration would make something of me. An expert taker of pictures. A dreamer. An idea guy. Instead I’m left thinking of trains long gone, how their going took down the elevator a few miles north and the warehouses miles south. A little farther south, and many years ago, a man — another dreamer — used to stand outside a little woodshed workshop watching the rail line for signs of the engines he spent his life whittling out of ebony plugs and ivory slivers. He made his own knives in a local steel mill. His workshop with the stove and trapdoor are now on display, as are the locomotives and steam engines he made. You can stand beside them and see the entirety of each; if not for the display case windows, you could hold one close, like some distilled essence of the real machines. You can at least imagine how dense are the carvings, like logs, like every ounce of one person’s deepest reserves.