The Clyde laps gently on a landscaped shore.
I sip my coffee, think what went before
when my ancestors trod this self-same ground
and the Clyde’s bank shuddered
to the hammers’ sound.
Workers’ Mass at six a.m.
Back home for breakfast.
Walking, wind or rain
in black of winter morn or summer’s early light,
pieces in pocket.
Then to scale the heights
or probe the deepest depths of cavernous dark
warmed and lit by only braziers’ spark,
among those men who made
Chains would rattle,
cheers would rend the air –
cat-calls, whistles aimed at Crown and heir
as ships rolled down and out
to meet their time in space
and Queens sailed forth to claim their rightful place.
Or, greyed and serious, faced a world at war…
“When I nod my head, you hit it!”
Riveters, welders, squaddies, hauders-on
– my people made their mark and then passed on.
And solitary, stark against the sky,
that crane –
the lonely witness of those men gone by.
I strain in vain to hear the hammers’ song.
Still silently the river rolls along,
its music now a surging student throng.
by Marie-Therese Kielty