The price of coal
The children were attending, or not, sitting at their desks or not,
On the terrible day of the spoil slip. They may have been thinking
About Halloween but unlikely given the date 21 October 1966
Americana was still at a distance from these south Wales valleys.
More likely the boys would be planning to collect firewood for Bonfire night.
The unforgettable truth was that 144 people wouldn’t see another day,
Including 116 children, who may have played upon the colliery spoil tip,
Would certainly know it from their collier fathers who had worked at the pit
And piled up the tip for years. The mining engineers knew that the coal tip,
Above the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil, overlaid a natural spring.
This it was that caused the slippage after the autumn rains had built-up
Water within the tip. This it was that caused the slurry to so suddenly slide
Slap bang into and over the classrooms which were packed full
Of happy children, only seconds before the deluge. The black and white
Images of disaster soon spread, including into my mam’s front room,
Where, I remember, my socialist father saying: “little kids, paying the price of coal.”