On Beaconsfield Street
Rosa leaves her house, stares at boarded out windows,
Moments later she’s searching out for old tins, brushes and a ladder,
And then she’s painting curtains onto council ply –
in blue, purple, yellow.
Painting out black –
putting hope back.
Because this is not a war zone,
This is Granby,
This is her home
And she’s just not having it anymore.
She’s not alone –
Around her, doors open,
Next door in Cairn Street,
Eleanor digs and plants,
tends and nurtures green
so that the grey and the bleak will realise that they have no place here.
Ivys and creepers climb,
hold on tight to would be ghost buildings.
Daffodils cheer from suitcases, tyres and bedroom drawers
as Eleanor weeds,
because this is not a lost cause,
This is Granby
This is her home
Not a war zone.
Back at Beaconsfield
paint dries in Liverpool sunshine.
Now at number fifty six, pink polka dot curtains dance in acrylic,
At number seventy
two black cats now sit well glossed
watch the world unflinching,
whilst at the top, at ninety one,
Joan looks out from her living room window
as her son brings Conwy Castle to life;
paints a ruin onto a ruin,
then steps back and says
“There’s your view mother.”
The wild flowers sown by Helen
on wasted land
in Duycie Street, grow tall.
More street art appears-
the council’s ‘No Ball Games’ sign on the wall
mysteriously transforms into ‘Games Please!’
children start to emerge
like the butterflies
painted in gold onto doors of blue.
And they play,
like they should do.
Over the years the council come,
and they say they’ll paint them over,
Or they’ll knock them down,
But they won’t, though they’ll try.
And then they say they’ll sell them privately,
but the companies don’t buy.
Eleanor, Carol, Maria and Anne
are with Rosa and Theresa’s husband Jo.
There’s a gang of them on Jermyn and Kingsley,
Theresa’s organising where things should go cos there’s a market starting
outside Eleanor’s, it’s crammed with stalls, home-made cakes
and Rosa’s jerk chicken and music to make your heart sing,
Music to make your heart sing!
And Granby beats like it used to, back in the day,
when its soul had a different ska.
Some might say it’s been payback for a riot
30 years of managed decay,
But there’s a group of women who won’t keep quiet,
a group of people who want their say.
Here’s to Eleanor, Rosa, Theresa and Anne,
And to all those who won’t let it lie,
there’s too many years of promises broken
And they’re not just letting these buildings die.
Bring them curtains and hang them in every window
Mend the roofs, fix the floor,
Watch them walk home with their heads held high
Because this is not a war zone
These are our streets
These are our homes.
These are homes.
Alison Down. March 2013