Saturday, 29 November 2014

Smithfield seven

Smithfield... how I wish I'd seen it in its heyday. It was the sort of district I love to explore in other cities, but its body went up in flames in the early 70s. Its soul appears only in occasional glimpses. Sidelong, as Ciaran Carson would say.

Old Smithfield, from Joe Graham's great site exploring old Belfast

Smithfield Market (Ciaran Carson)

Sidelong to the arcade, the glassed-in April cloud – fleeting, pewter-edged -
Gets lost in shadowed aisles and inlets, branching into passages, into cul -de-sacs,
Stalls, compartments, alcoves. Everything unstitched, unravelled – mouldy fabric,
Rusted heaps of nuts and bolts, electrical spare parts: the ammunition dump
In miniature. Maggots seethe between the ribs and corrugations.

Since everything went up in smoke, no entrances, no exits.
But as the charred beams hissed and flickered, I glimpsed a map of Belfast
In the ruins: obliterated streets, the faint impression of a key
Something many-toothed, elaborate, stirred briefly in the labyrinth.

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