Tempered Steel

By the pain of flame and hammer fall

thereby forged is Man, so one, so all;

by pain and trial and sacrifice,

Man takes shape when wrought within the vice;

some are beaten so smooth and so fine

they seem perfect casts, and, so, divine,

whereas others are much less imbued

with such work, being quite rough and crude;

some are discarded, and some stillborn —

all are melted down when old…outworn;

some serve as swords, and some hoes or plows,

some as bowls, or rings for marriage vows,

and some have edges as sharp as blades,

though intended for the softer trades,

and so cut the Hands which made such slaves

with Damascus folds of flowing waves,

drawing blood to infuse tempered steel

and remind gods what it means to feel.

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