Greenham Common

For a time I read regularly at The Pump House in Watford, our local folk club. 

People didn’t want to hear the same old poems so I was writing new ones every week. The audience preferred them to be topical. And they also liked them to rhyme.

In 1981 women had set up a peace camp at RAF Greenham in Berkshire in protest against the site being used to house cruise missiles. The Greenham women, as they came to be called, lived there 24/7 under the most primitive conditions. Their non violent protest became news world wide.

In December 1983, 50,000 women joined hands and encircled the base.  Hundreds of women were arrested and one woman was killed. 

Nuclear missiles were finally removed from the site in 1991. However, a camp remained there until 2000 when the Greenham women won the right for a memorial on the site.

This poem, written for and dedicated to the women of Greenham Common, was published in a poetry magazine in the States.

It was written to be read aloud.

Dedicated to the Women of Greenham Common

When I burrow under my bedclothes tonight

Clutching my hot water bottle so tight

I think of the women who are up in the night

Down on Greenham Common.

When my kids are lying curled up on the floor

Watching TV though they’ve seen it before

I think of the women who are fighting my war

Down on Greenham Common.

When my family are happily eating their tea

And the children are yelling and shouting with glee

I think of all those keeping vigil for me

Down on Greenham Common.

When I see my kids safely tucked up into bed

When we’ve said our goodnights and kissed each little head

I think of those watching the silos instead

Down on Greenham Common.

When Heseltine orders to shoot on sight

And everyone thinks that might is right

The women of peace are in danger tonight

Down on Greenham Common.

When soldiers and police are trained to hate

And sentries with guns are at every gate

I think that peace may come too late

Down on Greenham Common.

When nobody can pay their bail

When buttons are pressed and sirens wail

Who’ll be alive to tell the tale

Down on Greenham Common.

When we have learned to love our foes

When war is a word that nobody knows

When every nuclear weapon goes

Down on Greenham Common.

When every one of us is free

Although that day may never be

Thanks for trying to make peace for me

Down on Greenham Common.

(1983)

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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