William F. Rutkowski



Steel from World Trade Center to be Used in Warship
-AP News

I read, "Metal has no memory."
How metal, being mindless, cannot separate,
The years spent in the sky from scrap yard days.

"In metal we value utility."
But in its affinity for conversion,
I can see a cycle of ploughshares and swords.

The blade of my disposable razor,
Once parted the oceans of the world –
Plunging hard at the bow of a destroyer.

After three reheats, your first bicycle,
Now rumbles across the desert,
Rolled into armor.

What if, like wood, cutting metal revealed a chronology?
We could search for circles of fire and growth.
The scars on our hands,
Reintroduced to the costly, broken tools of our past.

What if metal had a voice?
Our everyday stainless would drive us from the table.
Telling tales to rival The Illiad.

Reaching further back –
What would metal say of the quiet peaceful time?
Before we dug it up,
Devised a purpose,
Formed it in fire,
And pressed it to serve.



William F. Rutkowski is the Staff Instrument Maker for The George Washington University Physics, Chemistry, and Engineering Departments. He would like readers to know that while metal makes a great deal of noise when it is cut he has never actually heard it speak. He lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife and "sabre-wielding" son. "Metal" originally appeared in Wooden Teeth.


Published in Volume 7, Number 2, Spring 2006.