Six Million Hand-driven Rivets

My father is dying – tentatively, unhappily –
and I give him a bridge.

Precisely, I give him Sydney Harbour Bridge,
this Christmas, this turning year,

as I travel under it, gazing up at all its iron.
Girder-strong, massive, the old world built this

into the new. There are photos of Englishmen
in 1930 in waistcoats and cufflinks

and neat bowties, straddling the sky, hammering
rivets into air. My father would approve:

How many rivets? he’d ask me.
Facts, hard facts. I’d tell him the answers

to ease the time – and the number of man hours,
the number of years, before they could journey

over the water with perfect confidence,
step on step, to reach the other side.

by Robert Seatter

This is the last of the weekly poems for this year. Poems will start appearing in your inbox again on Monday 9th January. Many thanks to all our readers for your continued support of the Weekly Poem. If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, don’t forget you can catch up with us there. In the meantime, the Poetry Centre hopes that you enjoy a very happy Christmas and an excellent start to 2012.

‘Six Million Hand-driven Rivets’ is copyright © Robert Seatter, 2011. It is reprinted from Writing King Kong, published by Seren Books in 2011.

Robert Seatter has published two previous collections with Seren: Travelling to the Fish Orchards and On the Beach with Chet Baker. A graduate of Oxford University, he has worked as an EFL teacher in Italy and France, as an actor and journalist, and also in publishing and broadcasting. He lives in London where he currently works for the BBC. You can read further selections from Writing King Kong here (click on the book’s cover), and here, and you can see and hear Robert Seatter reading from his work on this page.

Seren is based in Wales (‘Seren’ means ‘star’ in Welsh) and recently celebrated its 30th birthday. Begun as an offshoot of the magazine Poetry Wales by Cary Archard and Dannie Abse in the latter’s garage in Ogmore-by-Sea, the press has now grown and employs a number of staff. It is known for publishing prize-winning poetry, including collections by recent Forward winners, Hilary Menos and Kathryn Simmonds, as well as books by Owen Sheers, Pascale Petit, Deryn Rees-Jones, and many others. The fiction list features a new title by Patrick McGuinness, The Last Hundred Days, that was longlisted for the Booker Prize. The high-quality arts books include the recent collaboration between the poet John Fuller and the photographer David Hurn, Writing the Picture. For more details about Seren, visit the publisher’s new website, where there is a blog about Seren’s news and events. You can also find Seren on Facebook, on Twitter, and on YouTube, where there are videos of a number of poets reading from their work.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.