The Night Shift at Shaffer’s Crossing, Roanoke, Virginia
by Amy Sailer
To the tracks’ southside,
The sons of Carver High pass a joint between them
Before heading to the grocers where they work
Restocking the hourly shelves,
These not quite men.
Signs proffer EBT, Uneeda Biscuits,
Paint peeling shards of bright blue.
Their mothers stop before home, needing
Coffee and eggs to fry for the night’s first meal
As evening slips into the mountains’ shadow.
All the men will congregate down long grit fields
Laboring in Norfolk Southerns, coal-heavy
Coming west. With their grind’s
Sounding cries, the first wheels tense,
Their backs and forearms tense,
And the mighty’s brought to halt.