Vladimir Bukovsky

“Strange things happened to time. On the one hand it seemed to pass with pretrernatural speed…On the other the same time could crawl with agonising slowness: it would seem as if a whole year had gone by, but no, it was still the same old month, and no end was in sight.”
 
Vladimir Bukovsky Dissident Died 27th October 2019.
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Remembering Aberfan

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Bitter limp fruit

 

Imagine fishermen labouring in a heavy swell,

pulling in the trawl to find silver bitter limp fruit,

entwined in the mesh of drip green nets,

and seeing the dead eyed souls of their own young children.

And we stay silent for our history is never told,

silenced from the hour, the days, and the years,

for we are edited out of the hours of our time.

 

Imagine coal miners hollowing out the seams,

men stripping coal a mile and more underground,

and the hooters above the darkness call them away,

to be brought up into blink white light to see the black tip,

the harvest of their toils washed into the village,

spewed over the school where small children,

once sang hymns and were supposed to be safe.

And we stay silent for our history is never told,

silenced from the hour, the days, and the years,

for we are edited out of the hours of our time.

 

Imagine the trail of letters, written foretelling concerns,

the dead nerved fears that a disaster would occur,

and the NCB replied, not days, not months but years later.

And on a grey fog filled October day, after weeks of rain,

a small children’s school and a day of devastation,

exactly in the manner and the way foretold.

And imagine if no one was held to account,

and those families told – make the slag heap safe yourselves,

from the proceeds raised for the disaster fund.

And we stay silent – for our history is never told,

silenced from the hours, the days, and the years,

for we are edited out of the hours of our times.

 

Imagine the miner, the father, the brother, the son,

looking out at the sprawl of waste they’d dug.

Imagine the mother, the sister, the daughter,

looking out at the grey listlessness of another day.

Of the silent keening, the numbed grieving,

of the impossibility of using words to describe.

And we stay silent for our history is never told,

silenced from the hours, the days, and the years,

for we are edited out of the hour of our times.

 

Imagine the mothers bringing up children,

the happiness and hopes for the future.

Imagine the sisters who stayed off school.

Imagine the brothers too slow and were late.

Imagine the vacuum where a life had been once.

Imagine a young life where a vacuum is now.

 

And we have been silenced, our history just words,

and our future is silent and will never be told.

Silenced from this hour, silenced from all the days and more.

Silenced from this, these years, silenced from all that could have been.

 

 

The Aberfan Tribunal found that repeated warnings about the dangerous condition of the tip had been ignored, and that colliery engineers at all levels had concentrated only on conditions underground. In one passage, the Report noted:

“We found that many witnesses … had been oblivious of what lay before their eyes. It did not enter their consciousness. They were like moles being asked about the habits of birds.”

In the House of Commons debate on the Inquiry Report it was asserted by the Government, on the advice of the NCB and supported by comments in the Tribunal report, that the remaining tips above Aberfan were not dangerous and did not warrant removal, estimated by the Tribunal to cost £3m, but merely required landscaping – a much cheaper option.

The government made a grant of £200,000 to the NCB towards the cost of removing the tips, and under “intolerable pressure” from the government, the Trustees of the Disaster Fund agreed to contribute £150,000.

No NCB staff were ever demoted, sacked or prosecuted as a consequence of the Aberfan disaster or of evidence given to the Inquiry.

 

©robcullenoctober2016

Published RedPoets2019

Cae’r Blaidd or ‘field of the wolf’.

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Cae’r Blaidd or ‘field of the wolf’.

 

The last wolf died in this place

but the hour of the wolf remains

and the wolves call for us, call for you

calling haunting us with their calling

calling for us over and over again

 

It is the time when we cross over

as some people say of the passing away

in the early hours when coldness

an imperceptible drop in temperature

loosens our will, loosens our grip on life

and the wolf crosses with us too

it has nowhere else to go after all.

 

A time we no longer speak of

the easing of souls young and old

the hour of the wolf remains taboo.

 

It is a way with our family at this time

that we sit in vigil, a candle burning

talk of remembrance, of memories

of life and the sadness of leaving.

But whatever we say the wolf remains

at the door until our time comes too.

 

And the wolf patiently waits for the hour,

waits at the door to call as it must do.

 

 

Published in The Learned Pig 2017

©robcullencelfypridd19