This one has just shown up in the latest Poetry Ireland Review. I say ‘shown up’ because I hadn’t heard it had been accepted. The premise – worked through in various drafts – was a vivid memory of a coffin factory in my home town of Newtownards Co Down, but actually not trusting the memory at all.
Then not long ago, after I’d started the poem and taken it down the road of exploring an imaginary ‘memory’, I had reason to revisit the town and drove past the place. (I later found oput my father worked there for a week as a youth.)
Anyway, this one’s dedicated to the man – boy, then – who first pointed the place out to me. Cheers, Mike…
for Michael Pinnons
Have I invented, or do I remember, stumbling
on the coffin factory? How sunlight
glared on its threshold but went no further,
how boards were stacked against one wall,
and against another, coffins, lidless
and unvarnished, stood like open wardrobes.
A circular saw buzzed, and smithereens
of sawdust tumbled into the street.
And I could be wrong, but I remember
a resinous bright smell of wood, and glue,
and a man carrying wood in shadow
through that windowless shed, whistling.