TUBAL CAIN

I stand on the barren forest floor,
This deserted camp alive so many years before – it’s all ghosts now;
One can imagine the din
Even hear it traveling through a fog – like listening to an old wax cylinder gramophone.

The year is 1899 rough hewn men with hope aflame
Their future bright, haul 18 miles up mountain side,
Building camp they settle in for the fight.

At century’s turn a hunger grew
For ore of a different hue gold and silver could not feed – industrial appetites had different needs;
Some men came to build a future
Some to forget a past – the mountain did not care.

Men attack the western flank their drills bore,caps blast;
Iron mountain shutters like a slumbering giant disturbed,
Its resistance does not last.

Twelve years later the fight was done,
It appeared the men had won – copper and manganese were pugilist’s prize;
But winter snow was cruel that year,
Spring floods then an avalanche – as if nature itself took recompense.

These roughhewn men still the drills and box the caps
Their hope now gone; while old Iron licks its wounds,
They abandon camp at summer’s dawn.

Now lay a curse of rusted track
Tangled pipe and fallen shack – I came often to marvel in my youth;
These vicissitudes befell the city Tull as well,
And neither camp recovered – none would dare and nature could not allow.

The hillside sits in repose now a century
Since they’ve gone; nature took back her own,
Yet I can feel what lingers on.

There’s not much left of tangled pipe
Or rusted track, Mother Earth absorbed the shack – only one big gaping wound remains;
Now when one comes up the trail,
There are no drills, or caps, or men to hail – just shadows, ghosts, and faint memory.

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