When the heat miraculously did make waves
and shadowless twos and threes of things
I didn’t want to climb or scald on,
the workshop with its underfoot murk
of machines and tools was an eye-rest.
I rarely saw a car deflate itself to a fuming
stop inside those breeze block walls but I did believe
the smoking kitchens of some squat city came
to cool their heels there: More than one
Bain-Marie reclined in grease-stained aprons;
up-ended potato-peelers sang their lowest notes, at a push;
fan-blades lay like a rainforest plane-crash;
cold-steel canopies were lava-blackened.
And my father made his own weather:
inside, through an elephant’s graveyard
of scaffolding poles and un-walked planks
the sparks from the orange flame shooting
from gloved fingertips illuminated an underworld
reachable only by way of his black-masked eyes.
He did not need to pick apart what he had on his hands
to master it, completely. As he lay the torch down
and the blue flame sighed at our feet
the storm that had passed over, as they all did,
left us silent and sweat-stung in its wake.
The cauterised scar on the mended machine
mirrored the smiling lips that would emerge
from behind the mask into that idling future
I was careless enough to wish for.
This poem first appeared in The Children of the Nation: Working People’s Poetry from Contemporary Ireland edited and introduced by Jenny Farrell (Culture Matters, 2019)
Alan Weadick © 2019