The National Poetry Review

Lesley Wheeler

YOU KNOW WHERE THE SMITHY STOOD BY THE CLINKERS

No plaque remembers William,
son of John Anderson, although
together they forged nails, spikes,
& crossties to brace an antebellum
Classical Revival porticoed building
whose cupola uplifts a white statue,
whose belly is lined by museum cases
& donor names engraved in marble.

None of their ironwork is visible but
bootscrapes: four handmade bars
bracketed by looping upstrokes,
fern-curled flourishes on signatures
few trouble to read. I study them,
which does not scrape me clean.


LESLEY WHEELER’s new books are The State She’s In, her fifth poetry collection, and Unbecoming, her first novel. Her essay collection Poetry’s Possible Worlds is forthcoming in 2021. Her poems and essays appear in Kenyon Review, Ecotone, American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She is Poetry Editor of Shenandoah.

Back to Issue