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    Seamus Heaney - Two Lorries

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    poetictouch

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    Seamus Heaney reads his poem Two Lorries at Villanova University - Pennsylvania - 20 April 2010.

    Two Lorries
    by Seamus Heaney (1939-)

    It's raining on black coal and warm wet ashes.
    There are tyre-marks in the yard, Agnew's old lorry
    Has all its cribs down and Agnew the coalman
    With his Belfast accent's sweet-talking my mother.
    Would she ever go to a film in Magherafelt?
    But it's raining and he still has half the load

    To deliver farther on. This time the lode
    Our coal came from was silk-black, so the ashes
    Will be the silkiest white. The Magherafelt
    (Via Toomebridge) bus goes by. The half-stripped lorry
    With its emptied, folded coal-bags moves my mother:
    The tasty ways of a leather-aproned coalman!

    And films no less! The conceit of a coalman...
    She goes back in and gets out the black lead
    And emery paper, this nineteen-forties mother,
    All business round her stove, half-wiping ashes
    With a backhand from her cheek as the bolted lorry
    Gets revved and turned and heads for Magherafelt

    And the last delivery. Oh, Magherafelt!
    Oh, dream of red plush and a city coalman
    As time fastforwards and a different lorry
    Groans into shot, up Broad Street, with a payload
    That will blow the bus station to dust and ashes...
    After that happened, I'd a vision of my mother,

    A revenant on the bench where I would meet her
    In that cold-floored waiting room in Magherafelt,
    Her shopping bags full up with shovelled ashes.
    Death walked out past her like a dust-faced coalman
    Refolding body-bags, plying his load
    Empty upon empty, in a flurry

    Of motes and engine-revs, but which lorry
    Was it now? Young Agnew's or that other,
    Heavier, deadlier one, set to explode
    In a time beyond her time in Magherafelt...
    So tally bags and sweet-talk darkness, coalman,
    Listen to the rain spit in new ashes

    As you heft a load of dust that was Magherafelt,
    Then reappear from your lorry as my mother's
    Dreamboat coalman filmed in silk-white ashes.