In my home city, close to each other,
Stand two bell towers.
One, far taller than the other, belongs to Derby Cathedral.
Built in Tudor times,
Its melodious bells mark the passing of hours
And call parishioners to worship.
The second tower has long been silent.
Its single bell called 'hands' to work
And heralded the world's first industrial age -
That rapid division of people into
Rich masters and poor 'hands'.
I said 'silent', but the tower has its noisy ghost -
A wretched child worker from our Old Silk Mill,
It is believed that a mill overseer, enraged
At the feeble boy's slowness
Kicked the lad down the tower stair-well -
Where he bled to death.
When I worked there in, the late 'eighties,
I sat at my desk, helping with cataloguing.
Derby Industrial Museum was now its name.
How priviledged was I, working in comfort.
And comparatively well paid!
A security man mentioned the boy as,
'No-but a white slave.
The overseers mere toy.'
We heard church bells.
It would soon be my lunch break.
I descended the tower's stair-case,
Walked across to the cathedral -
And said a short prayer.