Thursday, November 07, 2019

I made an attempt, a few months ago, to write a poem based on the plans for a building made out of shipping containers to be built in Edinburgh, designed by Scottish artist David Mach. The Scottish Poetry Library offered a commission to a poet to write a poem about it. Sadly I didn't win the commission but since I only entered the competition after feeling I could be inspired to write about the building I now have a purposeless poem with no where for it to go so I thought I would post it up here!

Mach 1

In the year of the Painted Lady you grew, 
body sprawling like red buddleia

When you think you know me
     look again. 
          I have magician hands,
I aim to surprise. 

I hold up the sky with my many facets. 

You need no passport, need not climb border walls
to enter me. I am open and welcoming you
     to explore my nooks, my crannies.

          I am alive
building and rebuilding myself 
in your imagination. 
I am a new kind of Edinburgh rock
     made from steel rubble.

I am a coastline without water,
a Giant's Causeway on land.

I have travelled all over, 
journeyed the Straights of Dover, 
Los Angeles, Yokohama, 
                                   Hong Kong.

When the materials of the earth fall apart
and remake themselves, this is my rebirth.

The bricks of the world converge on Edinburgh Park
born out of bloomeries and crucibles,
                                         pig iron.
Mach 1 was not formed by hand but strode into the city.
Mach 1 is a whirlwind, a freestyle dance, shape-shifting body.
Mach 1 is a fallen metropolis, a steel jigsaw. It cuts the skyline
     with its ragged edges.

Can you taste the ocean? The haulage of whisky,
cat food, bottles, cups, combs, pens, spades, spoons.
golf balls, flip-flops, bubble wands.

We are all caught in the flux of Mach 1.
          It is a metal river.
The thrust of containers leap midair.
Every container has a door, so many red doors opening and opening.
Mach 1 is a series of fingers twining and untwining together.

Mach 1 is the enigma of a Celtic knot. Moving 
in the night, it breaks and rejoins daily.
Mach 1 composes its own song. It is a red mantra.

Mach 1 is the cape of a matador waiting for a charging bull.
It is the falling sun turning to blood. Now it is still. Now soundless.
If you tune in you'll hear its song humming between your ears growing louder.

Mach 1 is a flock of red corbies nesting together.
The beauty of Mach 1 is that which was invisible, servant of the seas
               has now been made visible.

You are home, who have come from all over.
You have been transported,  shipped, landed.

You chant the names of the seas you have traversed, 
the oceans, the waves hunting you 
     from port to port.
What does it mean to contain the meaning
of the lives of so many?

You are a sea anemone, your tentacles draw us into you.

The sky sleeping behind you falls away
into every sky above town and city
where dreaming we all lie,

part earth, part rock, iron blood
               running through our veins


Yamini MacLean said...

Hari Om
"a new kind of Edinburgh Rock"... Yes indeed. I love the flow through the life of a container, the sense of bringing the global to rest in our capital.

I note that the commission was seeking a less-established poet, which is rather encouraging. Though it is a shame this poem will not be seen more widely - you never know, somewhere may turn up for which it will be a fit. It will be interesting to see what appears in the end.

May I offer a return read? It is on my personal blog this time and very short - and entirely different! YAM xx

Marion McCready said...

Thank you xx

Jim Murdoch said...

A purposeless poem? Is there such a thing? I’ve always thought a poem was the end itself and any “purpose” to which it was put was coincidental, a bonus at best. This will find a home, if only in your Complete Poems.

Marion McCready said...

Of course, you're right Jim! But it didn't seem right for me to sent it out anywhere for publication! I like your optimism that someone would publish my complete poems one day!!! :)