The traffic tears down this small hill –
Two lanes turning right at the lights,
And an occasional race or contest
As they merge heading over the bridge –
Mainly SUV’s, vans, some heavy trucks –
Shooting by the bottles, plastic, cans,
Paper, colouring the roadside grass.
This I see, seemingly inconsequential,
Of no worthy meaning, is not so, but
In all its ordinariness is held, not
In these words, nor in the facts of place
Or motions of time, but held in an act
Of love – and not mine, for I detest this
Stretch of road – an act of original creation.
I too share in this dependency – and do
With every unwanted, broken thing
Here or that I would hurl from myself
As from a car window – and follow
This uncared-for route in a gift of being
That asks nothing of me but allows, and
Allowing accepts my failures, my waste.
Obviously, the speedway is in action –
Brought home in the distant, familiar
Engine howl and whine as it emerges
And declines in circling regularity –
No other sound competes with this
Or communicates comparable urgency.
It’s common to see the cars on race day:
Great trailers of open-wheelers and
Super-saloons in their exuberant liveries,
Stickered with motor-sector brands,
Behind racks of tyres; often the name
Of the driver in a neat cursive script.
What there is to see and hear is longing
For a state beyond the actual, for loss
Of self in a world that is transporting,
Setting character and dirt-track free
From the worn, the rounding enclosure:
To be again first, again as the original one.
And this it is that motivates every vehicle
Of human creation – art, science, these
Constructed for racing – always the search
For the simplicity of an un-resisting,
Absolute goodness – always obscured
In the event, in its showering of earth.
That’s the sound of unpracticed hammering –
Different from a nail hit hard, straight, head-
To-head, with none of the light repetitive
Clinks – and now there’s the levering
Squeak of the nail drawn out, leaving a slot,
The risk of diverting the next from true.
All this, for me, is merely vicarious experience –
The creation of something from nothing,
Or, it may be, nothing from something –
A chance of perception knocked into thought:
So the mind drives itself into every event
Inserting knowledge, belief, supposition.
Listening, brings to mind a leather-aproned
Carpenter – sunburned, sleeves rolled high –
In an exercise of unerring accuracy, hammering
Home point after point in the whole reality
Of building: lessons for me no less than
For the efforts of my neighbour or the child.
Precision in handling a hammer and nails
May be no great matter in the world – and
A child’s lack of mastery less, though it has
The beauty of innocence – yet we are formed
By our chosen application, judging ourselves,
And perhaps being judged, accordingly.
Unbelievable the number of vehicles
Hitting this metal fencing – it’s not as if
It’s invisible or even that it’s new –
It has been a barrier between the road
And pavement as long as I can remember.
What kind of inattention, speed or
Incompetence is it, that cannot round
A steady corner or come out of it under
Control? Month after month, the steel
Rails are bent, buckled, forced out of joint.
It’s true, of course, that if there were
No fencing, there could be no crash:
A driver would mount the kerb and
Take off again, no damage done, always
Assuming a passing pedestrian could jump.
So the use of the barrier seems to me –
Or for those that installed and maintain it –
To be in its quality of needing constant
Reinstatement: rather like, or modelling,
A religion of forgiveness and salvation.
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