Roadworks – a poem by Jeff Gallagher


The high priests in their hard hats
stand round the ruptured gravel,
numbed by the spell of an old tree
that has wounded the pavement.

Six acolytes in orange glimpse wisdom; 
then, like failed Buddhist novices, 
they busy themselves with lights and signs
and prepare to inter their god.

As the congregation of cars
backs up along this pilgrims’ road,
machines fill the cracks, the shrine
is rolled flat and anointed with tar.

In an hour it is over, the mute deity
overwhelmed by these temporal repairs:
where once worshippers gathered round trees,
the gods lie beneath them, forgotten.

Events once ascribed to fate
and the wrath and revenge of the heavens
are now blamed on human intervention -
the diversion, the accident, the delay -

But the cracks will reappear: it is quite beyond us 
to fashion or comprehend the world
while earth moves and trees root.
Allow extra time for your journey.

Jeff Gallagher is a poet and playwright from Sussex, England. He has had numerous plays for young people published and performed nationwide. His poetry has appeared in The Journal, One Hand Clapping, Makarelle, Spellbinder and Runcible Spoon.

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