Poetry Corner

The fires of London

Illustration by Suzy Varty
The baker's shop, an oven, a single ember,
Igniting something from nothing. 
Heat from hot, from not,
Room zero becomes inferno.

Freezing-fire from an old Hotpoint
A cold spark of faulty friction
A random lightning strike
In the tinder box of unrest.

Two smouldering summers, centuries apart.
One city consumed by fiery rage.
Pudding Lane and Grenfell,
Timber and plastic alight.

In the corner of the fourth floor -
A synthetic seventies block
Where families stack twenty four storeys high.
Twin tales of terror and loss.

Predicted and forewarned, 
Though economically expedient.
Don't evacuate, stay in your room.
Instincts overridden. 72 die. 

London's Burning , London's Burning,
but no fire engines yet.
Text messages strike the ground below
as angels fly from ledges. 

Tendrils of smoke creep round the tower
Fifteen minutes later wrapped in dark thorns,
The unborn falls into an eternal sleep.
In seven minutes the tower could have been evacuated.

A blot on the leafy London skyline
As tall as St Paul's; a plastic-coated sanctuary.
Five days  of purification and nine dead.
One a monument, the other a charred monolith.

A purgatory of politicians fan apathetic flames.
Searching for scapegoats; who will they blame?
Dutch, French - the first refuge-seekers, immigrants,
Firefighters, council workers? Hubert was hanged. 

The first death was only a servant.
Inflaming social and racial tensions.
The survivors today are still homeless.
Assured by the fortunate it was a Random Act of Man.


Suzanne Fairless-Aitken