Notes on Neighbours – The Poem is not on the website.
On April 26th 1986 the worst nuclear accident the world has ever known happened in Chernobyl, in the Ukraine. At the time, Ukraine was ruled by the Soviet Union, a collection of countries dominated by Russia. The nuclear power station exploded, and suffered meltdown, releasing deadly material into the earth’s atmosphere. Over the following weeks the material fell in rain all across Europe. The secretive Soviet Union did not warn its neighbours for many weeks. The disaster was discovered by scientists who detected nuclear material in the air and soil.
Every detail in the poem is true, and taken from reports in the press and media. You might notice metaphors: the ‘sip of gall’ (from the Bible) ‘blowback’, the ‘box of sorrows’ (from the story of Pandora’s box), ‘the poisoned arrow’. The poem ends with the Russian word for ‘openness’, Welsh words meaning blue-green light, and English: all signs of hope.