The Last Spike - Poem by Patrick O'Reilly
The new world was built on the backs of many.
Nameless men and women all.
The slaves and slaughters,
The shot and powder
The large chunks of Rocky Mountain or Shield
Collected and scattered
By one man's mighty Dream Of The Seas.
Aching spines bent into stiff curves,
The snow piled past their knees,
The hot prairie sun beating down on Chinese backs
Too often turned the other way at the Pacific ports of call,
Even after leaving a dead friend at every mile.
Old Ned Pratt did it all without breaking a sweat or earning a scar,
Ignoring rough hewn hands tightly gripped on splintering handles.
His was a Golden Spike driven by a fine new hammer
All along that long steel vein reaching west.
The names forgotten in passage and page
Are those of the weary eyes behind early-worn faces
Who sailed to any coast
Seeking a home and only finding a heavier boot
Driving ever downward.
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