"Roadworks" by Jeff Gallagher is a fine poem posted recently at Amethyst Review. Click the pic above to read it in full.
What's impressive about the poem is the way that Gallagher uses language like a light by which to uncover the sacred ritual behind the ordinary world of things.
The first stanza reads:
The high priests in their hard hats
stand round the ruptured gravel,
numbed by the spell of an old tree
that has wounded the pavement.
Gallagher's use of alliteration in the opening line: "high", "hard", "hats" promotes a tone of austere authority. The construction workers are priests. As they repair the road, they become angels doing holy work:
As the congregation of cars
backs up along this pilgrims’ road,
machines fill the cracks, the shrine
is rolled flat and anointed with tar.
Yet, they seem unaware of their true role. Despite their work, the closing stanza acknowledges that "the cracks will reappear" and that the forces that move nature and human impulse remain shrouded in Divine mystery.
It's enough to participate and contemplate. And perhaps offer solace and repairs.
Which is what a good poem does.
Gallagher's beautifully sustained symbolism, congruent imagery, and careful diction creates a sense of sacred surrealism, a topic and aesthetic idea that I'll return to again in this blog. I consider this a gem of a poem and hope you do, too.
Hit talk above or below to let me know what you think of this or any other poem or topic.