sounding the coal
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.