There is no sense in it

Thursday July 7, 2005

I’m a Londoner. Born there, raised there, lived and worked there for a good part of my life. Doesn’t matter how long I’m away, nor how far, when it comes down to basics, I’m a Londoner.

Today London was hurt. Wasn’t the first time, is very unlikely to be the last. And all of us Londoners, resident or expat, hurt with it. If I’d been there today I would have gone out with my camera and notebook. As it was, all I could do was to share in the sorrow and the anger vicariously, on radio, TV and the Internet.

If I were there today, now, I’d be sitting quietly in the back of one of the big London churches, trying to make sense of it. Here, a long way away, I sit quietly in my study, wondering if the photographs I’ve gathered as the day has progressed can help make sense of it. They can’t of course. There isn’t any sense in it.

So I turn my thoughts to writing a poem, still not making any sense of it.

 

Raising the dust
 
I was raised in the smell of bomb-stirred London dust,
kicked it, raised clouds that smelled of history,
swept it, played road-man with a borrowed brush,
breathed it when the bombs were stopped.
 
I worked in the smell of London dust,
walked steadily through it, kicked it, breathed it,
washed it from ledges and counter tops.
 
When the bombs came again, shamrock-shriven,
I smelled it once more, the old dust, lifted to the wind.
 
Today, the bombs came again to raise the dust.
I did not smell it, couldn’t touch it, could only view it
on the faces of troubled people, dusted, and left
wondering how many more times London must shake.
 
 
John Bailey
July 7, 2005, Lincolnshire

 

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