ANGEL OF THE NORTH


At my back is Durham’s Romanesque

Te Deum. I turn my face to the sky

and this wonder – forged in a commonwealth

of system, iron and grace by private

genius out of public patronage,

on the grassed remains of a pithead baths.

 

Wherever you are in its vicinity,

in its line of sight, you can look nowhere else –

at its span, its height, it wings; at the

uncompromising power, unambiguous

vitality. When you look directly,

it is earthed but ready to soar – from your eye’s

corner, just about to take off or land.

 

It is rusting, except where children sliding

have polished its feet. It seems naturally

an ‘it’, not androgynous and neither

female nor male. It seems like the solar wind,

a flood tide, a stand of birches, winding gear,

a lathe, a mould. I read the graffiti;

note the engineers’ marks; count the rivets;

conjure the subtle, oh, gentle throb

of enormous wing beats; feel the skill,

the grasp, the joy; imagine the steady

tremor of turbines. Celebrating life,

prefiguring death, this weighty messenger,

this kind harbinger, welded like a ship’s

hull, embraces the air.

 

 

 

 

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