A Crumbling Chimney

In the morning the footpath is flaked
with red chippings, red dust,
that deep rich orange that comes
only from a certain age of brick
and in the crumbling only the slightest
hint remains of its shape, its packed
wholeness. The fire it seems
has shed itself in the last storm.

This is the way a house sometimes
dies, from the outside in,
obvious like a lesion on the skin
with a fullness of life enclosed, not caring
or keeping a fast grip on joy, at home
in the fading littleness of cheerful rooms
where nothing that matters is beyond repair
and the creak of decay is happening anywhere.

Remember the brickworks at night,
fields white and starched like a fresh sheet?
In the middle of nowhere red stars glowed
through ventilation chinks. Trees nearby stayed
green longer, budded out early
and birds in winter squabbled for a warm roost,
or is that another trick the mind played
when everything shut down? There have been so many,

and even now at times the body snaps awake
at four in the morning say, in a panic
over something that will never come about,
a memory that’s finally escaped,
or from a dream of an irreparable leak.
The world must make its way through the tightest
seal, brick weather, ridge tile slip,
the mind, however terrified, fall back to sleep.

Last night’s lash of wind and rain leaves a trail
of mortar-grit and flakes of red
across the roof; a galaxy of damp has spread
along the attic wall. Now begins the inevitable
patching up that will one day be one
too many. But in my life’s eye I have it still,
that first long sight of brick, far-stretching, beautiful,
sunset and a sea to sail on.

Ted Mc Carthy is a poet and translator living in Clones, Ireland. His work has appeared in magazines in Ireland, the UK, Germany, the USA, Canada and Australia. He has had two collections published, November Wedding and Beverly Downs. His work can be found on https://tedmccarthyspoetry.weebly.com.

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