This is yet another English Assignment – we were to find a famous poet and choose a poem of theirs and present it to the class alongside an original poem we wrote to mimic that poet’s style. I chose “Two Lorries” by Seamus Heaney – which is in sestina form and describes the Magherafelt bombings on 1993. I felt to be true to his style of writing I should choose a human-caused disaster and follow his train of thought – from realism to imagery to an instruction to the audience of the poem. (Again with the dashes, WordPress and I are still fighting.)
The Art of Fallen Beams
The sun shines down onto concrete sidewalks and steel beams.
Every few minutes, the sky is streaked with the trail of another airplane
That flies fast and far over the city filled with people like the fireman,
Talking to a kid half his size like he was his father –
Has he ever been up in a truck’s ladder and seen New York?
The kid says no but his mother pulls him on – he has his life
To live and maybe he will someday. The man returns to his life
Of his no sleep, called out day and night to save lives and make children beam
With happiness. The never sleeping city of New York
Carries on, dragging him with it. The constant plane
Of effervescent life seems dull to the father
Of two – he never sees them enough as a fireman
Never able to take them to films – the exhaustion of firemen
Takes away their ability sometimes to live life
The way they should, taking time to be a father
Watching as their child swings from beams
On the playground, making noises like an airplane
Revving its engines and soaring over a new New York
And on to the sun rise. Oh, New York!
Oh, dream on of parades lined with children on firemen
As time ticks on and two airplanes
Swerve off course, over the city, ready to give life
To blow up a building in smoke and falling beams.
After that, ghosts of husbands and fathers
Haunt the sobbing forms who must yet go farther,
Must stand up from the dust of the shocked city of New York,
Gather up shopping bags and move away from the beams.
Death walks past them with the bodies of firemen,
Lifting them from the rubble, prying their lives
From empty shells, to another plane
Of light and sky, but which plane
Is better? The one of children without a father
Or that of fathers without anything, including a lost life
In a time beyond limits above New York.
So coil up your hose and return to life, fireman.
Watch the rain clear ash off the beams.
As you hoist the ladder of life to try and rescue lost New York,
checking wrecks of planes for surviving fathers
That you can return to the children of the city, fireman, as you try to forget the deathly art of fallen beams.
photo credit Steve McCurry