The late great Blackball bridge sonnets: xxiii.

Sonnet xxiii

In the house of my body I carry that river.
In the depths of my being I’m water. My

body’s the home of a wandering miner
too old to go down and too tired to go on.

When I stand on the world and look over
what’s living, what’s left, I’m the bridge

to the past and the road still unfolding.
Wheels and water, tracks and steam, all

the footprints beside the river, thousands
of hours spent double in blackness, a light

on my head to remind me I’m human. In
the shape of my bones I’m an NZR sleeper

and when my last shift comes, my Dog Watch
boys, lay me like coal by the sea at Karoro.

Tuesday Poem

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About paparoa

Writer and researcher.
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5 Responses to The late great Blackball bridge sonnets: xxiii.

  1. Elizabeth says:

    This is so heavily weighted, but interestingly begins with such effortless weightlessness ‘In the depths of my being I’m water’. Thanks for posting, Jeffrey!

  2. paparoa says:

    Thank you Elizabeth. I posted this in solidarity with the families of the 29 trapped miners at the Pike River coal mine on the West Coast of the South Island, where I grew up.

  3. Elisabeth says:

    I’m new here, via Mary MacCallum’s bog. Thanks for such a haunting and measured poem. It takes me underground in my mind to where the heat throbs and the heart beats.

    • paparoa says:

      Hi Elisabeth. Thanks for the response. With what has happened here in the last week, I wanted to say something, but not just churn out an ill-considered and rushed poem that was full of feeling, but no weight. So I turned to one tried and true.

  4. Jim Murdoch says:

    Being from the UK I had to look up Blackball in Wikipedia to get this piece to really open up for me I’m afraid. The last couple of stanzas reminded me of ‘Futility’ by Wilfred Owen. What I find interesting is that, after reading your poem I found I’d misremembered the opening line of Owen’s poem, I’d added in a ‘boys’ – “Move him into the sun [boys].”

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