Today is the 50th anniversary of the disaster at Aberfan. I was a primary school pupil when this happened and the same age as some of the children who lost their lives that terrible day. It is sobering to think that all the experiences I have had, all the things I have done, all the life I have lived never happened for those young lives.
The prompt ‘Red’ reminded me of the red Welsh flag, the red shirts worn by Welsh sports stars, the red dragon which represents Wales around the world. So I decided to try a tribute to the people of Aberfan on this most difficult day.
Another school day, classes settle to learn.
Teachers take registers and young voices answer,
‘Here, Miss’, ‘Present’ and ‘Yma’.
Proud red dragon nation,
Celtic heritage, land of song
And poets, your life is about to change.
A rumble, a rush then darkness.
The blackness engulfs all
And the silence descends.
Blackness covers the red.
Light and hope extinguished,
Buried beneath the waste of your lifeblood industry.
Many rush to the school.
Hands grab at the spoil, digging, pulling,
Frantic rescue and a few are saved.
Red faces, flushed with effort.
Bodies found and hope is fading,
Black eclipses the red dragon’s future.
Late morning and only the dead emerge.
One hundred and forty four souls lost,
Half of the children at Pantglas School dead.
Red flags at half mast.
The red dragon weeps as the horror unfolds,
A generation snatched away one Friday morning.
A young girl hears the horror in the Midlands.
The scale too large for her to comprehend,
Yet fifty years on I still remember my mother’s tears.
Red roses and flags, tributes to those lost.
We remember those young lives lost,
The promise gone and many hearts broken.