Whyt Pugh
11/30/17 07:52:47PM
8 posts


I wish I could mourn you
With an anthracitic grief of my own
Futility, as I stare at the angry river
Beneath rusted blossoms
But my loss has been buried
In newspaper articles and flowers
Lain by strange hands, in national indignation
And the perfect plaits of the other mothers

Some of whom have children still
And many more who soon will
We don’t speak of it, don’t lay hands
Washed clean of the black sludge
Fed by an umbilical spring unseen
And ask, “Are you trying?”

But when your father mines my body
I grind my teeth to drown
Away the sound of the shovels
Thrust again and again into the slag

And as their bellies swell like the tip,
Those mothers more fit than I,
Who may yet wash small clothes
In the mouths of machines
Quickened by the coal that cost us our children
I know that I am unworthy
For maybe if I had dug faster
If I had resisted grancha
as he pulled me away
If I had stayed until I could see each bone
In my hand burnt bare by the acid that ate
The flesh I built in my womb

We were unmade in a moment
Not worn down by the slow and gaseous years
Fingering their way through porous stone

And I pray that the silken fibres of your neck
Snapped with a grace so fine time couldn’t
Register your existence

But though there is no mark of you
In this world, save the lines your loss
Branded on my brow and the carbon copy
Of your shadow on my sightless irides,
You are irreplaceable

The redemption your father seeks to excavate
Within me will not see a sunrise
For each month I take a bus to the city
Where they are illiterate to the language
That confesses my skin scarred as
One of the Mothers

And there at the clinic they smile
When I tell them I can’t keep up
With the ones I’ve already got
And I invent names and ages and bicycle accidents
And they swallow the unwritten lives as I
Take communion of the contaminant

It is the image of you dying alone
That wakes me in the night
Alone, not fused like a child of Llyr
To the brittle wings of the deputy headmaster,
Nor in my arms where you should have been
And with those faithless hands
I grasp at my wild and beating heart
Beneath the slag heap of my breast
Where milk will never flow again
And only black slurry remains

For the families dissolved by the 1966 Aberfan Disaster.

updated by @whyt-pugh: 11/24/19 06:16:51PM