Julie-ann Rowell Reads Two Poems
‘Photograph by Shomei Tomatsu’
PHOTOGRAPH BY SHOMEI TOMATSU,
MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK
Black and white, it resembled
a carcass on a hook,
the kind of image Francis Bacon
would have coveted, owned up to:
human or animal, origins uncertain,
could be either in its twist of gut.
I was surprised then when I checked
that this melting meat wasn’t flesh,
but glass – a beer bottle no less,
moulded into this shape
by the atomic blast of 1945.
Rescued from a site no one now
could recognise. Buildings rise
again and children are born.
The earth shuddered, continued.
A beer bottle lost any sense of what it was.
‘The Demolition of Mary Help of Christians Roman Catholic Church’
THE DEMOLITION OF MARY HELP OF CHRISTIANS
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
The bricks may be re-used, they’re hot
on recycling now, and the tiles from the floor,
the pews to be sold off, people like them
to fit out their homes with something different,
where the devout sat and tried to listen:
reclamation of a sort. Christianity
is preserved for the mid-states, perhaps. Although
this congregation are weak with weeping.
They knelt in the snow one January evening,
prayed to save their sacred space.
It had no effect. The building’s coming down,
in a storm of dust, heavy boots, and men
shouting because they can’t be heard over
the bulldozer, the drills, the hammers. You have
to shout in New York. Let your lungs out.
Prayers are too quiet. A stampede
might be necessary, some righteous anger.
There’s plenty of anger about, usually not
of that kind. It swims up and down the avenues.
It arrived at the church and washed past the door,
no one to gather it in, make it count. A friend
uses the tower as a landmark to find home.
Women do this, apparently, use steeples and spires
rather than street names or numbers.
Perhaps we should come to rely on something else.