I stand in the shadow of the old power station,
An iron monolith, unravelled by time and neglect,
Hulking rust, flaking lead paint,
A coastal breeze makes the ferrous corpse howl,
The clangs and screams of a building gone feral.
Twenty years have passed since they last shut the gates,
Twenty years since mankind last asserted control,
Nature now thrives, unshackled and wild,
An erratic caretaker with a cubist’s eye,
Order erased and replaced by chaos.
Birds claim dominion over this mangled fortress,
Each corner of the inglorious ruin an avian metropolis,
Pigeons ubiquitous, gulls rampant,
Cacophonous flocks flooding the sky,
A clumsy murmuration of the unloved ones.
Dragonflies dance above the glaucous saltmarsh,
An old wooden jetty sways with the tidal ebb,
River barges were once unloaded here,
Yet now the hardwood timbers are left to rot,
Watched over by the ghosts of the wharfmen.
Few structures persist in this forgotten place,
Yet relics of the service yards and car parks remain,
Cracked and fissured, asphalt ruptured,
Colt’s-foot, horsetail and beard grass encroaching,
The ephemeral vanguard of a pioneer invasion.
A green-fingered crew once cared for these grounds,
Grasslands mown and manicured with pride,
Their box-cut hedges are now long gone,
Lost to leggy avenues of glorious disorder,
Verges transformed to a paradise of wildflowers and anthills.
Rusted and warped, a railway track leads north,
Through unkempt scrublands where the nightingales dwell,
Past dusty fuel ash sidings,
Fiercely alkaline, slate-grey and barren,
Dotted with bright orchids and hardy halophytes.
I rest at the gates of a tumbledown outhouse,
The broken sign still reads “nature education centre”,
Even a celebrity endorsement,
Couldn’t prevent this place from being forgotten,
When the numbers in the balance sheets stopped adding up.
I walk slowly back to the tarnished metal gates,
Through grasslands teeming with a rainbow of insect life,
A basking lizard darts away,
Her gravid body catches my eye as I squeeze past the chainlink fence,
Through a gap the local kids made years before.
As I slink away a sheet of paper catches my eye,
Stapled to a telegraph pole at the roadside,
“Planning permission granted”,
The machines are coming to undo twenty years of natural process,
Shiny new homes to replace a brownfield monstrosity.
It’ll all be gone soon, my secret place,
They don’t value this stuff, but it’s richer than any wild place I’ve ever known,