POEMS ON CHERNOBYL
The two poems are reprinted, with the kind permission of the poet, from Mario Petrucci's Heavy Water: a Poem for Chernobyl, published by Enitharmon Press. Heavy Water was inspired by the book Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich, (translated by Antonina Bouis, published by Aurum Press) which records interviews with the survivors of Chernobyl. Copies of Heavy Water may be ordered from Enitharmon Press at http://www.enitharmon.co.uk, or direct from the poet at http://mariopetrucci.port.5.com
Some background material on the accident at Chernobyl may be advisable as an introduction to the poem. Further information can be found here on the SCND web-site. Also helpful is the information that the slabs for the 'sarcophagus' around Ukritye were put up with the help of helicopters and robots and the haste in constructing it is said to be a cause of the cracks which have developed in it (See 'Voices from Chernobyl', p.2).
Even the robots refuse. Down tools. Jerk up
spin feet from disaster, caught in that upward cone
Not the Firemen. In black rubber gloves and leather boots
to melt. Soles grow too hot for blood. Still they shovel
that kick-starts their DNA to black and purple liquid life.
Erect slabs with the wide stare of the innocent, crosshatch
crayon of state Concrete. In soiled beds, in the dreams
this forest, where no deer graze and roots strike upwards.
puff spores of poison. Concrete and lead can only take
This side of the fence
You must forget
on a dragon. Dirty
of glass coming down
you can breathe
have children. That side
every four hours.
Personally I say
for that. It is up to you
TEACHERS ARE INVITED TO SEND POEMS AND OTHER WORK BY THEIR CLASSES ARISING FROM WORK ON THESE POEMS TO A.C. CLARKE c/o SCND OFFICE, 15 BARRLAND STREET, GLASGOW G41 1QH (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Copyright Mario Petrucci
Teachers should feel free to reproduce these poems for use in class. They may not be reproduced for any other purpose (e.g. on other sites or in other publications) without the permission of the author.