Heavy Water: a poem for Chernobyl
pays tribute to the courage and humour displayed, in suffering, by the people of Chernobyl following April 1986. Each segment paints an intimate picture: some elements of everyday life remain unchanged, others are profoundly altered. The collection’s recurring motifs of black and white signal how all are silenced, reduced to anonymity – which in turn engenders fierce solidarity. Meanwhile, men and machines toil side by side to tackle the insurmountable. Petrucci’s use of scientific and medical terminology makes his descriptions chillingly precise. In contrast we hear the deeply personal accounts of real people struggling to cope with the enormity of the disaster. The poem is at once deeply shocking yet pervaded by an uplifting beauty. Throughout the poem emphasis is placed on the importance of human dignity and compassion, on the simple persistence of nature in the context of unspeakable destruction.