Welsh Miners



What has become of the caged
canary who lit up my life?
I hear the pit pines creaking.
Now nobody dares strike a match.

Birds descending in an iron cage,
our lungs blackened and scarred,
scared, we sing dark hymns
knowing we are doomed.

On hands and knees, we crawl
to the coal-black altars of our gods.
Blind from birth, pit ponies
trust us in their solitudes.

Don’t they know that when
the canary falls from its perch,
we’ll abandon them and claw
our way, anywhere, to safety?

Within the chalk tomb-tunnels
of my calcined skull,
a lone thought searches
an abandoned mine for a memory
it can no longer find.

6 thoughts on “Welsh Miners

    • I have never been down a coal mine, Tanya, though I have driven past them and read and written a lot about them, especially the coal mines in the Rhondda Valley. “When the coal comes from the Rhondda down the Merthyr Taff Vale line …” not my song, but an old and famous one. I remember the last great underground mining disaster in Wales. My parents worked with (and I knew) people who lost loved ones ‘down the mine’. A hard environment, and one which I was mercifully spared.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The “mine” at the museum isn’t real, but it was designed to feel real. They even run mining equipment while you are inside to add to the experience. I can’t even imagine working in such a place. Mercifully spared is right.

        Liked by 1 person

      • In the nineteenth century and early twentieth, they used young kids to work the smaller seams. Many of these seams were declared ‘unproductive’ later. Mining souvenirs: black coal dust coughed up from the lungs and spat out. “And every time I cough, I get a mining souvenir” Max Boyce (Welsh song-writer and poet).

        Liked by 1 person

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