|Heroes whose lives will never be the same again, an hour after|
Underground, calamities’ punctuate,
sometimes the price of coal paid by a life of man.
But here, here, this place, this Aberfan,
spoil tipped upon a mountain side,
spring-fed, rain-drenched, mass liquefied
slides with almighty roar, overwhelms
demolishes all within its path;
they come, off shift, black-faced, lights on,
heart-wrenched mind-numbed, they dig for children,
innocent lives lost erased through negligence.
Those who should shoulder blame
show easiness of lies defy intelligence;
corrupt ineptitude, callous indifference,
plunder disaster fund to rid remaining tips.
Unuttered words cry out, locked behind the lips
of children guilty to have survived.
There is an aftermath of grief and guilt to last a lifetime here.
At approx 9.15, on the morning of 21st October 1966, over 40,000 cubic metres of debris from a colliery spoil tip cascaded down the side of Mynydd Merthr onto the
of Aberfan, its immense force
destroying all in its path and engulfing and eighteen
houses. Pantglas Junior School
Great efforts were made by rescue teams but only a few lives were saved. The death toll was that of 116 children and 28 adults
The National Coal Board were blamed for extreme negligence and the indifference to the plight of the residents and victims of the disaster by its chairman Lord Robens and his plundering of the Disaster Fund to pay for removal of the remaining tips led to his much damaged reputation. However, he and the entire board of the NCB retained their positions.
Further reading: Aberfan disaster (Wikipedia)
Anna at dVerse asks us to write about catastrophe. She writes:
“In the midst of catastrophe we can become silent, shocked by events, withdrawing into our grief. Most of us empathize greatly with the suffering of others. As poets we may then wish to express our solidarity through words. To write what is unspeakable, unfathomable, and incomprehensible. As such the poetry of disaster is often fragmented. Catastrophe rarely leaves us with clear narrative and an understanding of causality. The suffering of thousands or millions can overwhelm our ability to find a voice with which to cry out.”
I found this task very difficult and chose to pay my homage to the victims and survivors of Aberfan.
Image: Courtesy of HealeyHero – History of Mining - and used under the Creative Commons License