There is a fascination about a fire of coal;
Watch it flinging a delicate tracery of intertwining light
Against the dark shadow of the chimney.
Flickering in spontaneous patterns upon the blackness;
Sinuous coil and recoil;
Frenzied
reds and yellows
Leaping, lithe and living through the dead smoke caverns of the chimney-piece.

Born of the coal.
Sprung from the womb of its mother, the coal;
Light and heat spawned in the young earth;
The embryonic world, yet unravished, a virginal sweetness of lush life
Thrusting upward to the light;

To the warm light;
To the warmth of the young prolific world.
Trunk and branch and leaf of the tall  tree,
Rich fronds of the fern,
Waving in the warm light,
Green life yielding to the bounty of the sun.

Born of the coal,
And the torturing cataclysms changing the face of the world;
Of the vast violence of water drowning the
green life of the forest;
Of the tearing asunder of the young world;
Of the spewing up of mountains in the convulsive spasms of change;
Of the cruel glacier, scarring the earth with the creeping agony of cold.

Born of the coal is the flame,
And the pattern of
blood on the hearth;
The pattern of
blood and torn bodies;
True as the fossils of leaf-patterns found upon shale.
But, these patterns are only for me,

And those like me.
Born to the dismal valleys of coal;
Born to the
grey mountains of slag and shale;
The dominant mounds of drab ugliness;
The
grey mounds emerging from the mined deeps of the earth,
Casting their dull shadow upon my days,
Upon all my days, darkeningly;
Even from my hour of birth,
And before,
On the night of the love-lust of my conception,

Spinning sickeningly to life, yet in the shadow of the grey mounds,
And the roar
Of whirring wheels.


My first eyes see the flickering lamps of the miners
Speckled against the dark of the mountain;
My first sound,
The spang of steel-shod shoes on the hard ground,
And the clang and the clatter of wheels.
The lamps, I find,
Disappear slowly, and one by one.

In dawns that are gone,
When the
grey mounds sprawled darker in the opalescent loveliness of morning,
The sky,
incarnadined,
Twisting
crimson fingers about the gaunt frames
And the turning wheels,
Touched them with prescience of
blood.
But, coal to be mined,
And yet more coal;
And, dawn by dawn, the lamps fading slowly, and one by one.


Dawn by dawn, year by year,
Under the dark shadows of the
grey mounds,
Born of the coal,

The grim pattern was traced inexorably;
Coal to be mined;
Toil and mutilation;
Hardship and death;
Poverty and hunger;

Blood
to the turning wheels,
Into the heritage of coal starkly woven.


But these are my patterns,
And of those like me.

Watch the delicate tracery of intertwining light
Against the dark shadow of the chimney;
And the flames, lithe and alive,
Leaping, born of the coal,
So fascinating!

As a kid, I used to enjoy watching our coal fire burn on a cold winter evening. I remember shovelling heaped black pieces from the coal shed into a coal bucket. A coal man would deliver sacks of the stuff. When you got it on your hands, they were black with coal dust.

It might as well have been blood on my hands. My dad told me stories about mining disasters.

My Grandfather was a miner in South Wales. Took part in the Minersí 1926 Strike. He contracted Silicosis, an Industrial Disease, & died, coughing up his lungs, bit by bit, into a bucket.

I remember my uncle, an ex-miner, the veins in his hands & arms swollen & dark with coal dust he had inhaled underground. He had a bad cough. Died of pneumoconiosis (black lung).

Mining is dangerous for the workers involved & also for the living environment. Nowadays, we know that combustion of coal causes air pollution, leading to premature death. As of 2020, globally, itís still the main contributor to Carbon Dioxide emissions, exacerbating anthropogenic climate change. High time to phase it out!

Coal, a fossil fuel, is plant material, once living plants (ferns etc), buried & compressed, during the Carboniferous Period. What we need are more living plants, including trees, to absorb carbon dioxide for photosynthesis.
 

 

Miners' Strike

Fire-eating

Match

 

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More by Namur King

Aberfan

Hiraeth

Brick Horizons

Remembrance Day

Today has never been before

Ode to Goldie, the Golden Eagle on its 10th Day of Freedom

 

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