Donora, Pennsylvania – Tracy Mishkin

Once steel drove this town.
The mills ran without end, their fire
dimming the stars.
My father walked on tin can stilts,
fine grit sifting into his lungs.
When he was nine, a fluke
trapped fluorine and sulfuric acid
in Donora’s air. For five days,
the town sank under thick yellow smog.
The flaming smokestacks raged on.
My father was a paper boy in acid rain.
He worked the shoe store beside his father.
When the principal said he might
make something of himself in college,
he was already gone.

Tracy Mishkin is a call center veteran with a PhD and an MFA student in Creative Writing at Butler University. Her chapbook, I Almost Didn’t Make It to McDonald’s, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2014. Her work has appeared recently in Hartskill Review and The Quotable.

3 thoughts on “Donora, Pennsylvania – Tracy Mishkin

  1. Donora, Pennsylvania, was also the home of one of the greatest baseball players in the history of the game. Stan Musial was born in 1921 and lived in the same dark, dismal, steel-stained town as described above until he graduated from high school.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are both correct. In fact, my father was Stan Musial’s mother’s paperboy. Many years ago, my dad bought his only vanity plate ever. It said DONORA. A few years after that, when Stan Musial was signing autographs in our city, my father waited in line and then laid the license plate in front of Stan. It was a grand Donora reunion of two men who had never met.


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