Saturday, January 07, 2006

Trapped in a Mine

Together we hear the sound of drilling
A life line of air descending,
And we can only wait.
We wait for aid, for light, for news,
Holding onto faith we just can’t lose,
Dreading only fate.
Boss passes round his pen to everyone,
A pen from his father when he was twenty-one
And still hoping to write;
He passes his pen, tells us to jot a note
For loved ones, ones on whom we dote
And whom we kiss good night.
He passes round his pen in the black damp
And I write my note by the flickering lamp
That hangs from my head.
I write ‘I love you, dear’ and ‘goodbye.’
I say ‘I don’t suffer,’ but I know I lie:
I miss my wife and bed.
I miss my kids and I miss the sun;
I miss drinks and games and fun
With the boys.
And so I quietly cry for my lost life
but act brave for the sake of the wife
and write with poise:
“Don’t cry, dear. Everything is peaceful here.
John and Matt and the others send their best.
Make sure you can take some time off and rest:
The kids need you to be strong this new year.
I’ll leave my gold watch to that son of ours--
But if you have need, know you can sell it.
Tuck in Mary; tell her daddy will visit
Her in dreams in the early morning hours.
I wish that I could see you, I miss
You so much. But ways of the Lord above
Are strange. At least I’ll always have our love.
Remember me! and bury me like this:
‘Here lies a simple American man,
A father, a miner, and a Christian.’”
I pass the pen and turn off my light.
I close my eyes to turn off the sight
of this hell.
I pray--alone--and know that this is the end.
But I hear something as I wait for sleep to descend:
The church bell?