The Bomb Disposal

© By Ciaran Carson

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Is it just like picking a lock
With the slow deliberation of a funeral,
Hesitating through a darkened nave
Until you find the answer?

Listening to the malevolent tick
Of its heart, can you read
The message of the threaded veins
Like print, its body’s chart?

The city is a map of the city,
Its forbidden areas changing daily.
I find myself in a crowded taxi
Making deviations from the known route,

Ending in a cul-de-sac
Where everyone breaks out suddenly
In whispers, noting the boarded windows,
The drawn blinds.

© Ciaran Carson, The Bomb Disposal, 1976, complete text, The New Estate and Other Poems, 1988, The Gallery Press.

Ciaran Carson compares the delicacy with which a bomb disposal officer works, adapting to the new mechanisms employed by bomb makers, with the way in which even people who live in Belfast have to update their understanding of where they are safe going.

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