An Idea of Order

by Michael Murphy

As they have all this past month,
Cars stack up along the incline
Of the Brow, hood to tail to hood.
Scarred by freight, broken-backed,
This is the last half mile of road
The workmen have left to shuck
With gravel, before raking tarmac
To an acrid bubbling skin.
Engines idle, as ranged to the east
Thunderheads promise more of the same
Slant rain as rises as steam.
Angling the rear-view mirror
To check up on my daughter
Babbling away to herself in the back,
I turn down the radio, listening to
Those sounds she means for speech,
Approximations of all our needs.
She knows I’m watching her, so
Smiles, sideways
Out through the clouded window.
One of the workmen stops
To tap the glass. What he wants to tell her,
I imagine, cannot be exchanged
For any of the words she owns.
The world, he’s trying to say,
Has changed. That that,
Lifting a hand to the sky,
Is a Perorbital hematoma,
And those dark-suited voices
Booming across the Atlantic
Threatening payola,
Collateral, the hills raised low
By Starlifters and Tornadoes
Are hung up on a God, who,
This time seven days ago,
Watched as two planes swung south
Above America. Now,
He shrugs, returning to his job,
We can’t even be sure if those
Towers of vapour are ice or smoke.