I am warded by dead men,
guided by ghosts;
their touch on my arm is deft,
I fear for the skill in my hands.
I take his tools down from the rack
as the scroll coils,
the steel draws down.
The drift sinks plumb-centre
through the body of the bar.
These things are gifted:
I step into their spell.
In the upswing of the hammer
the blow’s intuition.
In the pressure of my knuckles on the tongs
a nicety of angles judged.
As though their palms had printed on the place
that’s mine to touch.
And at its heart the ﬁre,
the cave of coals
through which the bellows’ pulsing soughs.
Behind the suck-and-push of leather
I hear the sibilance of heat
that spreads along the bar.
The looseness that precedes the burning,
the lucent dangerousness of steel,
the hiss of their companionship.