i.m. Abba Tor (1923-2017)
If this roof were to fall on my head now
I would die a happy man,
said Eero Saarinen
to Abba Tor (Kennedy Airport, 1962).
The engineer won’t stand on cardboard –
number, weight & measure.
Concrete is dumb. (For sure.)
It doesn’t know for whom it’s being poured.
Let’s use this requirement to let some light in.
Skylight ribbons through
the Jet Age double-U.
They builded better than they knew. Someone
whispers like a humming bird beneath
French limestone gravity –
gray shadow cavity,
the leaden heart of black corroded wreath.
The terminal’s long-empty now
(hotel-to-be). But the sound
of twine cats cradling profound
equilibrium is as a Finnish prow
of voices laboring in harmony –
it lifts a catenary prong
where the cartwheel song
creaks like rust in clay, or an eye
from the bottomland (circling palm)...
Green eye of Liberté
from Providential bay –
Columbia’s rose wheel, her feathered helm.
(NY Times obituary for Abba Tor here.)