‘The Moment’ by Julie Mellor

The Moment
On the Penistone train derailment, February 1916.

When I look up at the seamed sky,
the black teeth of girders, the cracks of fresh air,
I think this is not an accident, but a moment
of refusal, a point I can look on and describe
in bricks of words, then knock down again
before it becomes too fixed,

not an accident
but a pause, a determined holding of breath,
a gap into which all thoughts pour,
about how the world crumbles, how men
stand aside, watch as it all slides
easy as coal slack, the cold hearts

of their pocket watches
ticking against their ribs, as things sink
under their own weight, how broken things lie
on their sides for as long as it takes
for someone to call for help, blow a whistle,
wave a red flag,

how this moment is the result
of one small fissure where rainwater crept
into stone and, in freezing, filled its own lungs
and pushed permanence aside.

(from Breathing Through Our Bones)

Julie Mellor lives in Penistone. She read English at Huddersfield University and has a PhD from Sheffield Hallam. Her poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies including Brittle Star, Mslexia, The Rialto and Smiths Knoll. Her pamphlet Breathing Through Our Bones was a winner in the 2011/12 Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet Competition, chosen by Carol Ann Duffy.

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