To be Welsh on the coalfield
is to speak the language of steel and coal,
with an accent that grates like anthracite ‑‑
no plum in the mouth for us; no polish,
just spit and phlegm that cut through dust and grit,
pit‑head elocution lessons hacked from the coal‑face.
We sing arias and deep, rolling hymns
that surge from suffering and the eternal longing
for a light that never shines underground
where we live our lives and no owners roam.
Here “gas” and “fall” mean violent death
and the creaking of the pine pit‑prop is a song‑bird
suddenly silent in its cage warning of danger
soon to be upon us…
… words and music stop in our throats
as up above us the sad crowds gather.