A poem from Michael Feeney Callan’s 2013 collection An Argument for Sin
New Acquaintance Skybridge
Somewhere in Lucretius, pondering age and decline, he jogs nature to admit.
We’re animals lying on our backs, waiting for the mage scratch.
So here’s the mountain, king and charm and aeons;
and there’s the inlet island, wishing its benevolent company.
As they share they stand apart, mirrors of each other’s isolation and want;
mirrors of hard hunger, the agitated now bled bleached until
the whiteness of the sky is all that’s left – a worn-thin bridge.
We sit in the impasto emotion of a new evening:
meeting for the first social touch, stout with manifesto, ignorant as pigs.
All the days coiled round us weigh strong down so that we indent
not only the chair but the clock.
Everything stops as the earth accelerates unperturbed,
through glorious, impatient, colliding galaxies.
We scratch the coils in countless civil wars, in mortal catastrophe;
we move on the edge of a penny.
Like the skybridge worn and wasted this gulf is uncrossable,
unalterable as the crease in the mirror. But patrol it we must.
Along the shore in the wrack of all failed sailors, amid the debris,
scratching scabs, laughing with old teeth made white by the fame of Revlon,
justifying all the blindnesses, the crudities of opinion, the hidden farts –
that animal dude at the dude ranch – we get ready to walk the miles.
The mountain wakes tomorrow and like the king of its animal rule
beams its arrogant beam full knowing the ache and anguish of the island,
just as this island knows and that island knows.
Each watches the orbital clock, the distance measured in anonymous units
that may, just might, one day, make a middle-aged friendship.