Those stairs’ll be the death of me,
Her mother pants as she hauls the pushchair
up the final steps to her daughter’s flat.
Why can’t they fix the bloody lifts? Get it sorted?
She shrugs. Nothing works round here, Mum. We keep telling ‘em.
Yeah, she sighs. They don’t listen. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow, ok?
She watches her mother slowly disappear,
Trudging up the gloomy stairwell.
She calls out after her, Lights not working again?
In her kitchen she tips cornflakes into his Batman bowl,
grabs some cat food from the fridge. The light flickers inside
on and off, on and off. She kicks the fridge door shut.
Scooping up his cereal he shouts, Sing me the song, Mum!
He learnt a new one today at nursery – such a clever boy!
And handsome, they said to her. Sure to break a few hearts!
She pulls him onto her knee in his Superman pyjamas.
They both sing the familiar rhyme – London’s burning! London’s burning!
He claps his sticky hands – Fetch the engines! Fetch the engines!
She carries him to the window in her arms
to look at the lights scattered across the city at night,
shining like jewels in a vast treasure chest.
Swallows circle the Tower, skimming
through the soft summer skies.
Soon the sun will set like a fireball.
Far below, a boy in a red hoodie
kicks a football in and out
of the concrete bollards.
In the night, she hears him cough,
But she’s knackered and turns over,
completely dead to the world.
* * *
Fire-fighters find them in the morning,
huddled together under the blown out window,
A cat’s skull lies close by, and a blackened toy;
just a blob of plastic, stuck to what was once a small hand.
* * *
The onus for Fire and Safety provision should lie with the Fire Services; not with the Government.
Furthermore, we do not believe water sprinklers may be the best method of putting out fires.
In his parliamentary office, the Minister casually flicks up and down his Smart Phone’s screen.
His property market portfolio is doing very well, he notes. He reaches for his brandy.