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Red Wing

Here's where they make the good work shoes
in the long brick buildings beside the road.
Shoes whose stitched, crepe-wedge soles
and full-grain, oil-resistant leathers
bless tiny bones in the ankles and feet, shoes
of carpenters balanced on roof beams,
electricians, farmers, iron workers, welders -
cuffs frayed with sparks from the torch.
At shift's end the socks emerge tinged
pale orange, tops of the arches crisscrossed
with lace marks, propped up in front
of the six o'clock news. Here's to the sweet
breath of pond mist filling the lungs of summer.
Here's to baked beans and twelve hours off.
Here's to dust from the trucker's shoe, dust
he stepped into three states back.
Here's to shingles, aluminum flashing,
wall studs, rafters, ten-penny nails,
here's to tomatoes, onions and corn,
here's squatting down and here's reaching over,
here's to the ones who showed up.

—Joseph Millar

From Fortune by Joseph Millar, 2006
Eastern Washington University Press, Cheney, WA

Copyright 2006 by Joseph Millar.
All rights reserved.

Published in Fortune by Eastern Washington University Press. Copyright Joseph Millar, 2006.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Joseph Millar is the author of three poetry collections, including Blue Rust (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2012). Millar grew up in western Pennsylvania and was educated at Penn State and the Johns Hopkins University, where he earned an MA in poetry writing.

Learn more about Joseph Millar at The Poetry Foundation.