Monday 3 July 2017

Human chain (*)

The tap tap tap has passed.
Terrace doors are opened one by one
and one by one are shut
closing life behind them.

One by one the men light up
their first of the day,
their last before evenfall.

Down the street,
along the lane,
up the hill.

The derrick tower looms large ahead
above the grumbling heaps
amidst the grey clouds
silently hugging the warming ground.

In the cage
down, down
to the darkness.

Along tunnels,
ever narrowing,
ever shallowing,
to greet the face.

The air thickens
rank with sweat and dust.
Shirts removed their own toil
drips and streaks their chests.

The bird sings
to the clunk clink
of chisel and hammer
against the wall.

The rush of baskets
carrying away
the debris of destruction.

A man coughs and spits.
The birds continues to twitter.

© Sheila Ash 3rd July 2017

(*) The titles comes from the twelfth and final poetry collection and poem of the same title by Seamus Heaney – see

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