Snapshot: Kittanning, Pennsylvania, 1963
Looking north up South Water street,
the dying stand solid as
parking meters, finding finer spirits
underground than the ones
they were promised.
The stores here are shadowed in,
windows covered in soap and relocations-
lonely mothers clutch the gloves
of those who will soon be from Kittanning.
A fine layer of dust grows more confident,
as the Allegheny does its best to carve
new scars through the Rust Belt’s open wounds;
The sulfur sun finally glazes over a town
that stays locked away in its own dead storage,
trapped by the ice cold promise of something
darker than coal, stronger than steel.
by Michael Pollick
Editor’s Note: The demise of the steel industry in western Pennsylvania has been extensively documented, but what historical films miss is the personal destruction wrought by the change. This poem brings us closer to what it might have been like.