We were staying that weekend with your parents
at their corner shop to tell them you were
two months pregnant. You were already there
on Friday night when I came through the back door.
You were in the kitchen at the sink. A programme
about Captain Scott and his companions
entombed in ice and sliding seawards
was playing unwatched in the living room.
You told me the news about Aberfan.
That evening and in the many, many days
to follow there were bulletins and pictures,
all black and white memory suggests –
the rescuers of hope, the devastation –
then explanations, recriminations –
‘the price of coal’, a forgotten spring
seeping beneath the tip – but, above all,
above all, the hillside of dark slag
glistening in the October sunlight.
Twenty years later I took a school assembly
and read Leslie Norris’s ‘Elegy
for David Beynon’, the deputy head
at Pant Glas Primary, who died
in the slurry with children in his arms.
I did not cry then, a youngish man,
as I read the last quatrains to an intent
audience of young people but I cry now,
in the knowledge of my age, writing of
such love amid such waste.
Notes: 1. The Aberfan disaster occured on 21st October 1966; 2. Leslie Norris’s poem, ‘Elegy for David Benyon’ – http://www.aikiweb.com/blogs/moon-in-the-water-19051/land-slide-4296/