Tuesday, January 06, 2015

What will not rise

Lines written on the 40th anniversary of the Tasman Bridge Collapse

Forty years on and the dead have not yet risen
have not spilled themselves
up the bridge’s pylons,
the young couple still holding hands.
Sunday drivers.

Dr Jones of Bellerive had been to visit his wife.
Visiting hours over they kissed goodnight,
and he left (with regret and some relief?)
the eternal twilight of the ward.
Night had truly settled in.
He drove out of town in the drizzling rain.

People in their homes heard the collision
thinking of Cyclone Tracy, still in the news,
or the Mt St Canice boiler explosion
which killed laundry workers, a delivery man
amd a young apprentice boilermaker
the September before
when the plum trees were flush with blossom.
Four months on they'd be heavy with fruit.

Did Jones hear it, feel the vibration through the bridge, 
and the metal body of the car, into his seat and up his spine.
Did it rattle his teeth?

Joyce Stoakey, on her way home from church,
Pamela and Tony Sward, not long married,
young Bobby Rezek, still a kid.

They’d have seen the lights on the bridge go out
and, almost an afterthought,
how the white lines on the road
suddenly ended.

Sylvia, Frank and the others
waving their arms,

Pamela saying, 'Slow down,
Tony, slow down.' Too late 

to steer a course
away from the void,
away from history.

I was nine days old,
our car was rear ended
the day my parents brought me home from hospital
no reason anyway
for them to leave home on a Sunday night
in the rain with a newborn baby and another small child, 
and make the journey to the other side of the river. 
Still, a shock to them,
my father believed in the modern world.

Now most days my mother drives across the bridge,
up and over the crest, keeping left,
to where my father will end his days,
in the Queen Victoria Home for the Aged.
My parents’ marriage divided, 
east and west.

Under the bridge
rolling with the tides
the wreck of the ship
does not rise.

1 comment:

  1. This is aching and beautiful, Penni. Reminds me intensely of my mum's memories of the Westgate Bridge collapse a few years before I was born.