|Jan/Feb 2014 Poetry Special Feature|
Image courtesy of British Library Photostream
Digging a Fallout Shelter During the Cuban Missile Crisis
In the middle of the ring two men were throwing haymakers
at the other's skull. Friday Night Fights was on,
but Dad turned it off when outside lights
lit up our room. He spluttered, his curses
flying in Liam's direction
where Liam was shoveling dirt in the next lot:
his wife pregnant, he couldn't have been coerced
to heave the dirt out faster.
Despite talk of nuclear war
school drills taught me that I had only
to crouch under my desk until the alarms stopped
and yet after school I would see Liam
pouring concrete in his hole.
My father's humor never slowed him down:
"Have you got a sauna down there? A gym?
Will you be disappointed, Liam,
if this cock fight is called off?" Scared it wouldn't be,
I wanted to be at school, where I knew
what to do if the missiles fell: duck.