The Diving Bell

Jessica Traynor

Of the men who worked the port,

my father called the diving bell men bravest;
those who looked on places

no undrowned eye had seen,

who sought pipes buried in Liffey mud,
their breath catching in the bell’s close dome

while their kit weighed them down—
goldfish-bowl helmet curving vision,
the stinking rubber of galoshes,

permeated and never dry, and always
the danger of a spark or leak.

It was hard work with pick

and shovel in lace-thin air,

with each man’s fear whispering to him
beneath creaking tonnes of water

that if he didn’t believe in the physics
of the aching, rust-worn bell,

it might cave in; that the Liffey,

like any river, begrudging stolen land,
might claim him as sacrifice

for the insult of sewers, quay walls.