Meeting an engineer helping design and build what will be the world’s tallest building at over 3,250 feet, the Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia, reminds Steve of his first published poem. “I had written it in Chicago in 1963 while in college watching the new skyscrapers being built to surpass the then tallest building in town, the Prudential Building.” “Towers” was published 10 years later in The Anglican Review.
Of course a tower is built by starting from
the bottom. Strong workers and machines make
a joint to earth with wet, grey gravel–form
with time a foundation almost like rock.
Orange steel is welded, riveted, and made
to stand naked pointing skyward. Then blocks
and bricks are hoisted slowly up the side
providing covering flesh the tower lacks.
Small children make towers in trees, and these,
though only made of rotting boards, still stand
as proudly strong in little children’s eyes
as those from which much older men descend.
But both kind of towers still seem to say
with their builders: we look down on the sky.
– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, July 19, 2015