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The Construction of a Mechanical Crane

In a hangar in Baoshan Steel City
twenty miles northwest of Shanghai

a worker sleeps in a truck bed
beside machines. To come here is

to say I will look at light
through simple trees, count

the dust masks I have been given
to see

iron particles syphoned
into ivy tunnels

and the machines that cast
the machine I know

as crane.
In the hangar its torso, hollow,

tree-sized, spins
into a screw thread

to form itself. In Shanghai,
when the crane lifts a glass pane

across the sky,
this man dreams a room

rises from a hole in the ground.
I step inside it while another crane

cuts through a cloud.
Is my curiosity mechanical? Yes,

my own body is a defeated animal.
The next day I read

a red-crowned crane in captivity
has lost half her beak.

I return to the factory to wake
the man from his dream.

He prints a titanium
replicate, attaches it

to her injury. As I watch him,
my own mouth stings—

Jen Hyde

Hua Shi Hua [Drawings and Poems from China]
Ahsahta Press

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