Friday, 21 October 2016

The Prompt - Red

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.


  1. Powerful poem, sad and heart-breaking. The dark side of RED, the one that destroys...the one that we all wish, wouldn't exist...

    1. Thank you for such lovely comments. A very sad thing to remember but important that we do.

  2. Oh, it's so awful that that happened. Those lives lost. It reminded me of Gillian Clarke's amazing poem in tribute of Six Bells. Being a mother one cannot help but think of the mothers who had to go on living. I love that line about the dragon weeping. You've made me join her!

    1. Sorry I made you cry! But it is heart-breaking to think about. Felt I had to write something ...

  3. A powerful memory of such an awful event

    1. Thank you Louise. Indeed a dreadful event to remember.

  4. Yes tears from me too but what a wonderful tribute and such a powerful poem. My friend from Wales told me about it when we were children because of the impact it had on her mother when she was a child at the time. The ripples are still spreading out even today after such a loss of young life.
    Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

    1. Thanks for your kind words, I'm humbled to have touched so many people.

  5. Powerful words, and a wonderful tribute. It was such a tragedy, one that even those of us who couldn't know about it at the time have heard of. I can't imagine the devastation. Thank you so much for sharing with #ThePrompt (and apologies for the incredible lateness in commenting this week, OH away on business, the days just vanish!) xx

    1. Thanks for your comment Sara. It was indeed a tragedy and even after all these years I still remember it as one of the first big news events I was aware of.

  6. What a powerful, beautiful way to remember the poor lost souls of Aberfan. A fitting tribute x #ThePrompt

    1. Thanks Victoria. It means so much to have touched so many people with my words.