Uncle Morris
Through a life in Pennsylvania
coal country, his black hair,
wet anthracite parted neatly,
never grayed. Wire-rim glasses,
a sharp nose, a broad smileó
he could have been
a slick banker in a white shirt
but worked the trains,
tapping Morse code with large hands
until the Scranton line closed.
At 60, too young to retire,
he took a job making fish sticks,
baking them to perfection
in massive ovens, laying them
like rail ties in heavy pans.
When the Susquehanna flooded
his two-story house on Cherry Street,
the old photos were ruined,
but until death he told stories
in a constant chuckle:
the mine collapse, his Boy Scout
misadventures, the fools
he worked with, the sound
of fading train whistles.

Ken Autrey

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