Betsy Fogelman Tighe 


Be Like Iron

 --after Kendra Ford’s “Be Like Water”


Be wedged in the center
of earth. In your mass, be
the most common.
Be a shiny vein
revealed when density cracks open.
Be heavy with usefulness.
No argument can move you.
Only fire can change you.
New immigrants may make of you a fortress.
Children be defended by you.
Be bent into candlesticks and beds,
tower over cobbled streets.
Be a gate by which the lost enter,
and runaways depart.
Be the horse shoes, clopping pigs
to market, boy to burial, Jews fleeing a pogram.
Be in the water so the woman losing you
each month knows where to find you.
Mark the corners of formal gardens,
and doorways into art.
Be shaped to fork, spoon
so men can learn their manners.
Be the weapon,
take us from one age to another.
Know your value.
Throw your weight around
across each border, and against every cell.
Be easy to locate
and open to new purpose.
Be formed by stars
but pin us to earth.
Be a comfort as you hold us here.
Without you, we would float.
Be the boat.






Betsy Fogelman Tighe has published widely in small literary magazines, including Rattle,  &  TriQuarterly 74, has won two OPA prizes, and been nominated for a couple of national prizes. She works as a teacher-librarian in Portland, OR and loves her two young adult children equally to poetry.