Lisa Matthews

The Flood

In September 2008, the county town of Morpeth in Northumberland was flooded, the library perimeter was breached, and water devastated both building and books.

The Facts of a Flood

September 3rd. The low pressure known as Mattea gathers and grows across the southern-most tip of Greenland while in Gas House Lane someone parks their car, leaving room for the turning circle of the mobile library. September 5th. Mattea deepens to an unimaginable sprawl of 980hpa as it passes the southerly edge of Ireland. The maps and gazetteers in the stacks, all the legends and Dewey numbers helping us find our way back and away. Down by the Wansbeck an agency man straightens his waterproof before talking to camera. A bird preens on the flood gates. Another bird leaves. September 6th – 9th. Mattea settles over the UK before opening its eyes, its mouth and all its other points of entry and exit, over the outline and contents of Morpeth. A town in a northern hemisphere, a town filled with people and lives and dreams. No one looks above their head when they are checking behind them and round corners, reading between the lines. September 9th. Mattea dissipates. The sentence sounds so simple for such a wieldy, wind-borne thing, wind-full thing. The books in the library might describe it better, but so many of them were washed away.

Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future. Ray Bradbury, science fiction writer