Out of the Blue

You have picked me out.
Through a distant shot of a building burning
you have noticed now
that a white cotton shirt is twirling, turning.

In fact I am waving, waving.
Small in the clouds, but waving, waving.
Does anyone see
a soul worth saving?

So when will you come?
Do you think you are watching, watching
a man shaking crumbs
or pegging out washing?

I am trying and trying.
The heat behind me is bullying, driving,
but the white of surrender is not yet flying.
I am not at the point of leaving, diving.

A bird goes by.
The depth is appalling. Appalling
that others like me
should be wind-milling, wheeling, spiralling, falling.

Are your eyes believing,
that here in the gills
I am still breathing.

But tiring, tiring.
Sirens below are wailing, firing.
My arm is numb and my nerves are sagging.
Do you see me, my love. I am failing, flagging.

Simon Armitage

From Out of the Blue (Enitharmon Press, 2008)

I woke this morning with the lines of this poem in my head. The words kept turning and turning whilst I was waking, waking. It’s about the Twin Towers and the terrible moments that captured helpless individuals in the only choice they were allowed to make, which way to die.

Icarus seemed like an obvious example to illustrate the lines. Icarus, too sure of himself, too capable, too willing to push the limits.

The Twin Towers were the glory of Manhattan, the triumphal arches of the State’s financial empire, two Babels rising to reach into the secrets of heaven. And then the wax melted. The sun will always do that.

Keep on flying and burn, or fall, tumbling and tumbling back to an earth of which your true quest belongs.

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