THE BACK STREET FORGE

I remember the back street forge,
With its big open door,
And sparks flying in the wind
Sending us, children frolicing
In and out through the rusty gate,
Awaiting a replacement plate
To be moulded by the skilled hands
Of the muscular giant-like man,
Who swung the hammer with such might,
Making the iron anvil
utter groan like sounds
Spluttering angry sparks
Indignant, though defiant.
The soft neigh of the patient cob
Awaiting to be shod,
His master silent, alert,
Looks from the wielding expert
To the puffing bellows,
Scattering dust and smoke.
A tremendous wave of heat,
While we tried to catch
the flying smuts,
As they flew with fright
From the fire’s burning turf.

We mimicked the hiss-hiss
Of the iron, red and hot,
Rejecting its dip from burning heat to freezing drop.
Reappearing dark and grey,
Painlessly nailed on a hoof,
That very day…

But gone is that scene of welcome heat,
And the big smith with perspiring cheeks,
The forge is now an unsightly hovel,
Children gone, childhood’s dreams forgotten.

Máiréad Tuohy Duffy ©1999