A poem by Gerard Furey
It was low tide
and nearly still, queerly calm, comforting
though not quite the sense of comfort
one finds in music or seeks in hot tea.
The air itself was clammy. Not
muggy, it’s Ireland; redolent of
the greengray mudclay mauled by the
dredge barge bucket biting up the seafloor
before the old seawall; tinged with
odor from the crane; not gray heron, but
a diesel crane on shore
toting huge stone bales and lowering them
to the dredged floor, all to reface
the long, old, chiseled seawall slabs.
On the footbridge,
as far in as the sea can come
along the path where the tip of the bight
starts its turn toward the riverrun
the tide flow starts and down below I see
a man down there; he’s manhandling
a stone bale, managing it to the bed
scrooped by the dredge, and, while waving
the barge away, conducts the crane, Bring down
more, now! The tide’s tacking in to
test his feet, to tackle him, and he, calm,
stoves bales at an up-step angle
and, wet now to his knees, he makes the grade
and knows next tide he’ll wrap the job.
This work was featured in our spring/summer 2020 issue.