The Granary's Voice
With nightfall comes reflection.
Once the builders, traders, lever-pushers are gone
and have taken their noises with them,
we regain our voices:
The canal laps up whatever stars, leaves or raindrops he
can catch, then talks about becoming a river,
about hopping out of bed, one day;
of boldly flowing, where no bulldozer has gone before.
Their shift done, the young gantry cranes flex their sinews
and I listen politely, as they whinge and creak,
but during the day they shuffled and stacked
containers from Hong Kong like Mahjong pieces.
Redundant as I am, I no longer have cargo for the barges,
but they share their voices, anyway. Same old, same old,
they gargle, diesel-drunk, and how they’d like to laze in the swell,
instead of hauling ore, scrap metal or gravel.
But then they murmur of landscapes and locks,
of destinations and docks, and of kissing quays in distant waters.
And I, earthbound, obsolete, no longer a feeder of cattle or people,
I fall silent.
I have no regrets. I could have been built a munitions factory, or worse,
could have burned in storms of fire. Built in ’33, need I say more?
Even though I am empty now, hollow, forever hungry,
without purpose or hope, I shall not complain, but
I’ll gladly tell you about the golden nuggets of wheat and barley
cascading from floor to floor, as though to measure time,
and about the dry whisper of black rapeseed and grey rye in my care,
and my endeavours to keep insects, mice and pigeons out.
I’ll tell you about the tickle of the men, how they milled around
to keep the bread-in-waiting cool and dry,
how they filled it into sacks, always busy, part of the great flow.
Until the men left for metal silos. Until the pigeons came.
And I, with too much emptiness inside, turned myself into shelter.
I used to think of them as enemies, as rapacious gluttons,
but now their cooing keeps me company;
voices in their own right.