from Harm's Way (February 2013)
Monday mornings its gibber-flip
awakes me, the rough-and-tumble
of its drag against the cobbles
dislodging the greasy trap
of its gob, and as the flat head
is unhinged, so begins
the baffling ribbet, bringing
them up again, the dead
stogies and bits of string, the livid
slivers of plastic and peel
that spiral slowly to the street
before the lorry’s gulp and fillet.
Flibbertigibbet. Comes back
empty but for the filth
that furs its gullet, the tilth
of swarf and milt impacted
to its floor, though not before
that tacky, flapping plastic bill
starts clacking even louder still,
battering out an afterword
that only just fails to make itself heard
above the whine and screech
of the dumper, a gallows speech
that is lost soon as uttered.
At night the deep, invisible tugs
awaken even us, the heaviest of sleepers,
like whatever impels across the mirror
the glass that begins to touch and nudge,
now and now, the scraps of tracing paper,
hastily inked, that hover above the tain
and their own obscure reflections. If the stain
that deforms the tatty silver
seems to come between you and your image,
it doesn’t, is rather embedded out here,
the lens of an unmanned camera
watching from its place beyond a language
torn and set adrift upon the patent surface.
Let’s watch the papers flutter, their veering pass
in the wake of the shuttling glass
may let you do little but hastily parse
each disappearing word, each lithe phrase.
Yet elements, for all that, fall into place
and let us glimpse a world, a space
beyond the blur of flesh. And then it is erased.
They build themselves, you know,
working out at their own
edge, adding up to almost nothing:
a fretwork of white beams,
a skyhook; a tinted cab.
To come around in this drab
tower, becalmed in early light,
is often to find that, overnight,
another has joined the skyline.
Is to watch, between the blinds,
the crane begin the working day:
its desolate, infinitesimal sway
in a strong November breeze
that blows the mortar from the trees
like cinematic snow.
I have followed the long arm’s slow
underwater swing, its weightless
gravity, its material grace
for days up here, parallel
with the cab, yet unable to tell
exactly where the cables end.
For the river sends
its mist across the site,
and I make do with second sight
and sound, straining to hear
the smooth revs, the ticking gears
as something rises from below,
steady as she goes,
and the white boom glides,
and the carriage on the underside
tracks across, to hold above its place
the dense, stained, invisible weight.
All poems copyright © Conor Carville