Cobalt Twenty kilometers south They closed the factory In 1898 Cobalt I knew it was the farm As soon as I saw it On my left Even though the place didn’t Look like the photographs From 1904 A switch flipped in my mind I turned into the driveway On automatic pilot Cobalt I don’t suppose my great-uncle Would have ever worked In the cobalt factory or the saw mill or the grain mill Even if the mines and the factories hadn’t closed Even if he, at age fifteen, Hadn’t left for america Along with a lot of other Local teenagers holding Tickets to board the Celtic. He wasn’t the type to work in a mine. Yet I still can’t find what he did For work between the ages Of fifteen and twenty-six But eventually he did leave Us a rather extensive library. Cobalt When I drove out of the driveway I knew I couldn’t look back Too much traffic and a haunting feeling My great great grandmother’s parting To join her son and never return to her Norwegian home.
This poem was written during a trip to Norway when I visited the farm where my great great grandparents lived before they immigrated to America. I rented a car and just as I arrived at the nearest town to the farm, the navigation stopped working. I consulted my phone and drove in the direction that was most logical. After my visit with the current owner of the property, I went off to an old cobalt factory that wasn’t too far away. The cobalt factory was by a waterfall which had equally powered a saw mill and a grain mill. The process of producing the beautiful color of cobalt from mined ore/rocks for color pigmentation was lengthly and hazardous. This poem explores the unknown, the known and the things that happened and didn’t happen, things that haunt the family members who did or did not immigrate to America.