Collier Lad

dare-valley-1

Collier lad, where are you, now?
Now that the coal dust has settled
On this valley, that once vibrated
To the hum of pit head winding wheels.

Your lamp, extinguished
When the last seam came to an end,
When the last tram rolled to a halt,
And the last shift clocked off.

Fourteen, you were. A child.
But Dad was gone;
A victim of your valley’s success;
And no one else to feed the family.

So down you went;
Down into the deep, dark mine,
To bend your back and dig,
Like any other man.

Then came the closure.
Pit-head baths run dry.
And were you sorry?
Oh no. No more mines for you.

Just a wracking cough
That tortured your lungs,
And an aching back with black scars
To remind you of the life you’d lived.

And now, now that all the coal is gone,
Who remembers?
Walking through the country park
That once was colliery.

The lake, man-made,
Once full of earth’s dark matter,
That fed the washeries,
Now clean, and stocked with fish.

A park-like garden
Where wild flowers grow
And wild animals roam
And memories drift by.

A park, where once you toiled;
You, and so many like you;
Not knowing, when the alarm whistle sounded,
Whether you would live or die.

And you are gone,
Though memories linger
Of the sacrifice you made
To feed the greedy flames.

Sleep well, my son.
Rest your weary head.
And know that as these paths are crossed, today,
A memory of you lives on.

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