24 floors of incendiary backfire,
flames reforming the sky, sirens
for miles around, repercussions
for years to come. Most local
tower blocks are not yet safe,
is money to be made elsewhere.
Is not a priority, accommodation
will be made available as and when.
Life on the never-never is not
enough. There is not a dry eye
in the house, there is not a floor
left habitable, there is nothing
to be done. Nature as divine entity
is part of our relentless desire
to classify, label and burn know.
Each person’s narrative is still
their own, but they own nothing
else, live at the edge of negative
space and grief, poverty and guilt,
with the lingering smell of fire.
Everything is subtly blurred
and discarded. Lives taken away
in skips, a tower block dressed
in green beside the motorway
into town. Gawping drivers
and old news, a charitable fund
and lost neighbours. Other
variables are in play, emotions
run high, trains run late.
Not an attempt to understand,
is sound given shape to words,
distant observations from the
train ride into town. I live
in the suburbs, haven’t had time
to look into these things
or become a misery tourist.
24 floors that could have been
saved, 24 floors that are too high
for normal habitation. They are
building 44 floors nearby:
scratch the sky, hope no-one
has vertigo or drops a match.
Will not be clad with same,
will meet health and safety
regulations, will cost more
than risk and death can justify.
Bomb damage maps show what
is missing and what is at risk.
Areas destroyed, areas of fire,
areas where it is not safe to live.
But there is nowhere else to go.
Grief and rage mark anniversary,
72 people died, you we are doing
almost nothing. Put your trust
in anger, in official inquiry,
in a black sack over there.
A wall and barbed wire fence
separates towpath from
an area under the road,
but local legends are made
from cultural ragbag, fleeter
than wind and faster than fire.
Next time, you should and must
link up with the neighbours,
form one massive community.
Council housing blocks around
the church were adorned with
green scarves and the nave was
packed with people wearing
the same colour, holding up
pictures of loved ones they lost
and carrying white roses to lay
later at the base of the tower.
© Rupert M Loydell
(from Bomb Damage Maps)