Helpless Glasgow 1984
The fireman screamed come out terrified helpless
fire shot over the boy’s back frozen helpless
He crawled out over the sill four floors up
his arms reached were caught shifted helpless
We shivered behind our windows when he fell
I put my arms out sixty yards away helpless
A photographer caught him in mid air
froze him in time as he fell like a doll helpless
The door warped in the frame froze a man
hammered told us he couldn’t get in helpless
A poor kid whose intelligence screamed out
hammered at a burning window helpless
Frame by frame memory slides its photographs
for your witness Michele helpless aye helpless
The Scots word ‘aye’ in the makhta can mean ‘yes’ or ‘always’.
I lived where three mountains of black
grit and pink and white burden burned
a legacy of anthracite.
Sulphur yellowed the wind, lingered on porches
at twilight, soured fragrances of rose and phlox;
a reminder of anthracite.
After dark, flames showed startling blue; votive
lamps for dead miners, disturbed elements;
their part of anthracite.
Harrowed glances of picks, miners. Curved
struts pulverised into black coughing, tears:
harsh legacies of anthracite.
I dream myself, school books under my arm,
climb steep sidewalks, balance on black diamonds,
see green flare off anthracite.
Candles burn on dark corners. Parlour floors cave in.
Cockroaches scuttle. Ferns uncurl up through floorboards.
Associations of anthracite.
How many tunnels beneath houses? How many fires? Spent
mines leaked invisibly up up into dead mornings
their legacy of anthracite.
Michele knows we’ll all wake up to Invisibility one way
or another. But how can we not know what’s under our feet
knowing the legacy of anthracite?
For this challenge, I chose times and places of my experiences over the years.
Michele Waering’s work has appeared most recently in San Pedro River Review, Red River Review, The Ghazal Page and From Glasgow to Saturn. She lives in Renfrewshire, Scotland.