My Father

by Ellen Bailey

My father was a blacksmith for a company coal mine
He worked hard everyday and was always on time
He walked to work in weather both foul and fair
He worked long into life until he had white hair

He stood all day in front of a hot flaming forge
With blowing bellows that produced a great roar
Flames from the furnace produced beads of sweat
But not once did he ever voice any regrets

Into the fire he would thrust a piece of iron
Then on his anvil he would shape it to his desire
He fashioned man-made tools from hot molten steel
He hammered the metal until the design was revealed

He made the tools that coalminers had to use
He also made play-things for the kids in school
He made horseshoes for the neighbors' horses
He made sleds that would withstand rough courses

My father raised thirteen kids
He shaped them too as the steel he did
He molded them to be generous and kind
Tempered by his love and by his design

He instilled in them a sense of right and wrong
He prepared them for the life ahead and to be strong
He gave to each of them whatever it was that he had
And made them proud that he was their dad

My father worked until the coal mines shut down
And then silence engulfed our little mining town
His banging upon the anvil was no longer a shrill
But in my memory I hear echoes of his hammer still

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