Home Fires

Angela Croft is a writer who lived in Old Colwyn, North Wales throughout WWII. Her great, great grandfather Charles Thomas, was a Master Mariner who sailed Tea Clippers from South Wales. During the Welsh miners strike back in the 70’s when they lobbied Parliament her poem ‘Home Fires’ was published in an anthology by Prole Books following an open competition.

Home Fires in the ‘70s

The Welsh miners transcend the pinnacles
of power with their sonorous voices,
seduce Whitehall
as they plunge the Press Office into darkness
and we grope down the corridors,
candles flickering,
talk to journalists in the shadows,
wax dripping onto our briefing notes,
the only power
the static from the metal filing cabinets
making my fingers tingle,
as the choir serenades us with their singing
in the street below.

Their features rough hewn, fists clenched
as if shouldering a spade,
drab, square bodies
rooted in kinship,
earthy in colour and texture,
they catch the glow from their pit lamps,
like the coal itself, energised by the sun
captured by forest plants
and trees two hundred and twenty million years
ago, as they’re lead to oblivion
under an iron sky.

The women stand by them, display strength
and liveliness,
some wear pit helmets,
others in fur coats, hair piled high,
lift the valleys to the stars,
while unable to boil the kettle for tea
we try to keep to the same hymn-sheet
in our cracked voices,
the ghost of Nye Bevan sitting in the corner,
waiting for the fires to dampen down
as coal peters out, while the ashes smoulder on.

by Angela Croft

(First published in ‘Caboodle’ by Prole Books)

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