Poem: Flesh and Iron

Flesh and Iron

The old scale sits on the counter of the country store.
Still functional, it weighs corn, grain and nails
in a simple process of balancing iron weights
from another century against the item for sale.

There is an assumption the iron weights
are correct, never changing, immutable,
things to be trusted.
Commerce depends on that trust.

People are not as measurable.
More malleable, softer,
their stories, strength and weaknesses
are a shifting scale,
one weight never quite the same
from moment to moment, soul to soul,
history to history.
too much of it hidden to be measured,
a guarantee that we will get it wrong
as we assign our personal punishments,
one on the other.

About this poem

My own past has taught me that we often judge based on too little understanding. And the damage is just as often, terrible. Most of us have done it. Most of us have been victims of it. You’d think we’d be kinder.

The photograph was taken at the Farm Museum in Cooperstown, NY.


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