POETRY: Pounding Swords Into Ploughshares, by David Wagoner

You’ll need dozens for each ploughshare,
but no matter how hard your hammer
comes down on them, pounding
and pounding blades on an anvil,
no matter how glowing they look there,
bloodred again, they’ll only flatten
to thinner and thinner, misshapen,
flabby sheets useless for anything
but the sheer noise of forging them
or patching roofs. Their crystal structure
may give in at half the temperature
of melting, but simple annealing
won’t bring their shapes together
and sharpen them to a hollow
earth-turning curve. In the meanwhile,
the dozens and dozens you took them from,
the ones not dead yet, will be demanding
you give them back, supposedly
to protect their unploughed farms
from the enemy, but much more likely
to flourish in someone else’s fields
among their abandoned ploughs.

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