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This is one of the great public, civic

spaces of the world – the museum,

the library, the gallery, the court house,

Wellington’s column, the Steble fountain,

the Empire Theatre, Lime Street Station,

St George’s Hall,  St John’s Gardens, vistas

of the river, the Wirral, the Welsh hills…


During the worst raid of the Liverpool Blitz

the museum was set ablaze – a bomb,

one of so many, supposedly

for the docks, that razed history, neighbourhoods.

My grandmother, Liverpool Welsh – who took tea

with Buffalo Bill and was offered a place

in a music hall chorus line but refused,

being the eldest of thirteen, her Da

at sea and her Ma at the sherry –

described to me in detail many times

the natural history collection:

stuffed walruses, condors and Don Pedro,

a retired Barnum and Bailey elephant –

all immolated, and washed away.


While mummy, daddy, grandma see ‘Evita’,

she and I make our way to the museum,

holding hands. I talk about history,

public and personal – my father,

a stranger, a London Jew, in transit

that May Saturday, joining a line

of desperate buckets. She listens –

in my company a serious,

concerned seven year old – and asks if fires

can ever be put out. ‘Yes, always…

eventually,’ I say. We decide

to explore as many floors as we can

from the top – space, dinosaur poo, bugs

but have no time for masks and totems –

and pause, me for rest, her to draw,

before, leaving a moment for ice cream,

we walk in the dusk, past the statues,

up the incline to the theatre crowds.



Note: first published April 2017.




© Copyright David Selzer
1 Response
  • Mary Clark
    May 1, 2017

    The child’s answer about fire, the moment for ice cream, and the ending of this, are wondrous.

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