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.