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Lay for the Day
2nd December

1942: on a squash court in Chicago, the first man-made atomic chain reaction is unleashed.
The poem below, part of Intimations, was written in the shadow of Windscale (or Sellafield as it’s now called), the giant nuclear power station and fuel processing plant on the Cumbrian coast.


Towers hang and swoop
from the car to the weeping horizon.
In the factory, fixed on our progress
heart to heart, life’s cracking
and spitting down corridors of power
whose fissure glides towards us, bright
and deep as a snake,
or deadly patient detective
maddening our cells.

It is quiet although the wound
of sunset lies huge and open.

John Gibbens
from Intimations


The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar