KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 6: Fall 2016
Haibun: 335 words [R]

The Miner, Absolom

by A.M. Gouedard

green hills where sheep graze
white bones and coal, buried, held
seasons all the same

My grandfather worked in the mines from age thirteen to seventy. His life was closed in by mountains, the green one at the back, the dark looming one at the front and the pit head along the valley, winding the men in and out of the shaft, day after day, dawn until dusk when they came home singing.

boots ring on the road
deep valley voices echo
backyard starlit smoke

They worked on their bellies or crouched, often in water for days, water that undermines rock. Shaft collapses were frequent. Life was cheap. He came home covered in coal dust to his wife and two sons, sons he was determined to keep out of the mines. Yet he loved that coal—coal that he always polished with care before lighting a fire, brushing dust off black diamond surfaces.

water breaks through rock
with wood and straining shoulders
man becomes the beam

He saved twenty lives that day, men he had known from boyhood. When his lungs were affected they laid him off, no pay, no pension, no life. He bought an insurance book with the money he had and every day he trudged over the mountains and valleys gathering pennies that would help to secure some livelihood to the widows who lost their men in the mines. He never told his wife that when a family couldn’t pay he put the pennies in for them rather than leave them unprotected.

winter, summer, fall
the mountain hangs over all
tired to the backbone

When the mines were nationalised my grandfather went straight back to the coal face despite his age. He wasn’t going to miss those days of glory. Safety was suddenly the watchword and changes were made very fast. Hot showers were installed at the pit head and the miners came home clean at last.

men stripped to the skin
hot water, steam, baptised
brothers singing hymns

—Previously published in The Moonlight Lamp by A.M. Gouedard (Kindle edition, October 2014); republished here by author’s permission from Hello Poetry online (14 June 2014)

A.M. Gouedard
Issue 6, Fall 2016

writes poetry and fantasy and has a strong interest in Celtic mythology, fairy tales, fables, and the tradition of tales within tales and teaching stories.

Poetry and fiction at the author’s blog: The Dreaming Path

Books by the author: available on Amazon

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