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The Dinner Pail

      Photo courtesy of Steve Simko

Less lunchbox than mess kit,
What with that fitted lid

And handle, the canister set inside it,
Cap threaded tightó

All got toted off to work in the mills,
The pail as much a staple

As the bread and tea and leftover meats:
Meals unpacked like job lots.

At the end of the shift
It went back on the shelf

Till the next day, a soon-to-be vestige
Of the Industrial Age.

Catalogued here,
The metal's sheen is gelatin silver,

Its tin stamped and banded
Like a galvanized can.

I brown-bagged my meals,
Years later, to the 100-inch mill,

Though there were days when
My hours by the ovens

Flayed me with such heat
I wondered how anyone could eat.

Robert Gibb

Among Ruins
University of Notre Dame Press

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