Just beyond the lamp’s beam, where coal and dark

were one, was fire, flood, blast and rockfall.

Shoring bulged, split. Rock jerked through. Earth returned.

Exploited roofs fell, distantly like sighs.

How men loved life to work that labyrinth

crowded with frustrated lives! There were

children in the collapsed seams. There was dust

in ears, nostril, mouth, pores – ubiquitous

as death, death’s colour – and in the palm, a chance

shaving from the crushed forests, the suppressed

centuries, drawing blood.

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