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Grenfell

14 June , 2018

Floating ghosts in this heavy air,

Strangers alone with grief their dead can’t share,

The weight of silence,

Guilt and tears,

The scorched crematorium encompassing our fears.

Tragedy pastes walls in this heavy air,

Strangers alone with grief our dead can’t share,

The weight of flowers,

Pressed in bunches by the rails,

The monument above us charred because we failed.

The murmur of benevolence, every accent, every faith.

The power of community, every language, every faith,

A stranger hugs a young girl whose cousins are now with Allah.

We bear witness, they host grief,

Laying flowers besides their wreath.

Floating shadows in this heavy air,

Strangers crying with tears we can’t help but share.

Thank you says the girl to silent fire engines without lights,

Bless you, says the man to volunteers bringing food and light.

Shock subsiding as

anger is scribbled onto walls,

tears dripping into condolence books

laid out neatly onto stalls.

An orderly queue has formed against the chaos of the flames.

A shared solidarity through trauma that looks

ripped through by war,

like the blackened towers in Beirut,

but these scars are still raw.

They tear at us, they stare at us, a monument to wrongs.

They tear at us, they stare at us, the path ahead is long.

An elderly Afro-Caribbean woman shakes her walking stick at air.

She whispers something angrily, then doesn’t seem to dare.

Even the A40 seems to have quietened, distant and remote.

What use is the money, she whispers?

Then withdraws, upset, remote.

Numbers nobody can count,

Silence nobody can weigh.

Blackened walls nobody can paint.

Window frames contort inwards, choked by the flames.

What use is the money, she whispers?

The hushed tones are broken only by a wish for prayers.

Never seen so much kindness, says the mother who comforts all.

Thanks for the kindness, so much kindness,

The food from the Sikhs, the prayers and refuge from the church, the mosques,

Thank you for the kindness, so much kindness, she says.

More Muslims died than anyone else, says the mother who comforts all.

Someone asks about the living. Someone else about the dead.

Say a prayer for them please, in any language, to every God.

The hushed tones are broken by the sound of prayers.

Never seen so much kindness. Then silence fills the air.

Tea lights spread like daises,

candles bear the face of Mary,

words for the angels, but they aren’t coming back.

What use is the money now, she whispers?

Young men look up, weeping silently.

Rain threatens above, the sky reduced to tears.

But here it feels as though the tears are just beginning.

The pain is just beginning.

The anger is just arriving.

Cuts Kill, Never Again – shout the walls.

Where’s the justice, come the calls.

A man laying chrysanthemums mutters about Theresa May.

He asks me what I think.

But I can’t find the words to say.

None of this needed to happen.

None of this should have happened.

A floating grave in our midst,

Frightened spirits trapped between floors.

They ask us only to remember their names.

Names which never mattered whilst they were here

In our midst.

Floating ghosts in this heavy air,

Strangers alone with grief their dead can’t share.

A Chinese man appears amongst us, with wounds and his hospital tag.

They’ve gone, he says, my wife and daughter.

They were here, now they’ve gone.

Hesham Rahman.

Ray aka Moses.

Marco & Gloria

Isaac is still missing.

Vincent from the 14th floor.

Please help us find Nura, Hashim, Yahya, Firdaws and Yaqub.

Rana Ibrahim’s funeral prayer (Salat Al-Ghayeb) is taking place now.

She is mourned with Fethia and Hania Hassan.

Denis Murphy.

Gary Maunders.

Jessica Urbano.

Amal Ahmedin.

Anaya Tuccu, her tiny face shines out, her satin dress.

Aunty Marjorie Vital, and Ernie. On the 16th floor.

They too, on the 22nd floor.

I look up.

I owe it to them to do that.

To look up and see, really see, this floating grave.

We all look up.

We all owe it to them to do that.

I couldn’t count the names of the missing.

We couldn’t count the ones who are missing.

We now must do what counts.

Written on 24th June 2017

London W11.

 

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