sounding the coal: Lambton, 1889

sounding the coal

Lambton, 1889

Each day in flannel shirts and moleskin pants,

they ride down in an iron cage

to hew and harvest carbon crops laid down

in the late Permian age.

Along the face, incessant dark encloses these Cimmerians.

They raise their picks and chance their fate

to sound the coal for signs of vacant space.

This is where the prayers take place,

in this Stygian chapel of the working class.

Lamps illuminate wet walls and streaks

of vitrinite light up like ink-stained glass.

Still fills the room.

The heading weeps.

Walls glisten.

Flames flicker.

Listen.


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