Millenium Mills

Posted by Bradley L. Garrett on Monday Nov 15, 2010 Under Academia, Archaeology, Cultural Geography, Freedom, Poetry, Ruins, Spatial Politics

With Ruins
Li-Young Lee

Choose a quiet place, a ruin,
a house no more a house,
under whose stone archway I stood
one day to duck the rain.

The roofless floor, vertical
studs, eight wood columns
supporting nothing,
two staircases careening to nowhere,
all make it seem

a sketch, notes to a house, a three-
dimensional grid negotiating
absences, an idea
receding into indefinite rain,

or else that idea
emerging, skeletal
against the hammered sky, a
human thing, scoured seen clean
through from here to an iron heaven.

A place where things
were said and done,
there you can remember
what you need to remember.
Melancholy is useful. Bring yours.

There are no neighbors to wonder
who you are,
what you might me doing
walking there,
stopping now and then

to touch a crumbling brick
or stand in a doorway
framed by the day.
No one has to know you
thing of another doorway

that framed the rain or news of war
depending on which way you faced.
You think of sea-roads and earth-roads
you traveled once, and always
in the same direction: away.

You think
of a woman, a favorite
dress, your old father’s breasts
the last time you saw him, his breath,
brief, the leaf

you’ve torn from a vine and which you hold now
to your cheek like a train ticket
or a piece of cloth, a little hand or a blade –
it all depends
on the course of your memory.

It’s a place
for those who own no place
to correspond to ruins in the soul.
It’s mine.
It’s all yours.


For Toby Butler

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Tracks and Mineshafts
Peter Riley

Every faint gesture rebounds on us
leaving a vacant hollow in the world:
possible, unfulfilled acts embedded
in the tissue, growth points too late –
the land is riddled with failed promises
and premature returns.

He picks his way among hollows and craters,
earth funnels of abandoned mineshafts,
bracken fields, rose bushes gone wild,
dry voices ringing in the air
exhortations to labour and be patient –
derelict electricity sheds, tram lines
sunk into gravel, overgrassed courts;

he passes rows of empty cottages, hospice inmates,
boarded-up shops and brick scattered streets,
chapels and hermitages in stony wastes
all empty, sites of reflex impact,
inhabitants blasted to non-entity.


For Amy Cutler

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