Sunday, 26 October 2014

New poem: Brooch

Sometime after my father died, my step-mother came

over with a small plastic pot. One of the things in it was

a brass brooch of a miner’s lamp. I had never seen it

before. I went online to see what it was. I found out

that they were sold by the miners’ union during and

after the General Strike of 1926. It was to help the

miners’ families who were starving. I remembered from

when I was a boy, my father saying that he could

remember the General Strike from when he was 7.

Something about a type-writer being thrown over a wall.

He hadn’t ever mentioned the brooch. It must have

been his mother’s. He didn’t know his father. He was

in the US. He, his sister and his mother didn’t live

near any pits and coalfields. They lived in Whitechapel,

in east London. In a house with 6 or 7 others. He said

he shared a bedroom with his Uncle Sam. They didn’t

talk to each other he said. Sam had spoiled a cap my father

had been bought on Petticoat Lane. I asked him who

turned the bedroom light out? Neither of us, he said. They

had candles, not lights. I remember his mother. He called

her ‘Ma’. I didn’t know then that she had had a baby who

died. Or that her father and mother came from Poland. I

don’t know if anyone in the house knew any miners. My

father said that sometimes sailors used to come to the

house. He remembered a sailor who came from Jamaica.