10 January 2012

The Engineers


i.m. Josef Škvorecký

Theirs was a simple brief:
to forge a literature to match
the aspirations of the new regime:
stronger than bronze
stronger than steel
words stronger than worlds;

'You have the expertise,' the party said,
'to engineer the perfect soul
and send it soaring:
stronger than worlds
stronger than words,
outlasting monuments.'

So they worked
throughout the blood-raw winter
when the earth hardened,
through the ungenerous spring
when birds fell dead from the trees,
and cold locked the Devil’s Brook
in a stiffening vice,
until construction ceased.

But on inspection
words too deeply countersunk revealed
cracks between brackets and
hairline fractures deeper than sense.
And as their bosses peered at them,
trying to reason them away,
the gap was widening always.

And through that gap
came glimpses of the lights of
cars streaming across bridges
in the Canadian dusk;
of dissidents raising beers in ironic goodbyes.
and a flight of rooks in the darkening sky
calling:

Fuck you. Fuck you. Evermore.