Polish Sleepers

The first of a sequence of poems alluding to boyhood during World War II. The sight of recycled railway sleepers transports the speaker back to the lost domain of wartime childhood. Within this context, references to Poland and the positioning of other key-words in the narrative provide a potential  link with the period’s more chilling phenomena: wartime concentration camps. Once: a time when Heaney’s local railway-line, now closed, was active. Railway-sleepers in situ were a common sight, block-built criss-cross and four-squared with a characteristic smell: We … breathed pure creosote, a common preservative still applied to raw timber. Time has passed; the sleepers have proved to be ideal for the garden, laid and landscaped in a kerb/… half skirting, half […]