Six Bells Colliery
Wales 1940

by Susan Lefler

Look how I come, like a mirage
up from the pit where I have left my name
buried beneath the dust that marks
my face, fine as ashes and so deep
I cannot wash it off, except the circles
around my eyes like rings around the moon
that promise change. Dark as the inside
of the slag heap is the mine where I break
black rocks with my pick,
and it has been the tomb
for many men, but it will not be mine.
I have a son whose name is Bryn, and I have sworn
and swear again each day that he will not
descend into this hole. I see him in a field lost
in his book, the wind picks up his hair,
his face lifts to the sun as fair
as mine was once.

What I have seen buried
in dark seams of coal, I bring
to the mouth at each day’s end
and make with my throat the sound
that is his name.

Susan Lefler’s poems have appeared in journals including Icarus International, Appalachian Heritage, Pinesong: Awards 2006, Asheville Poetry Review, Wind, Passager, Main Street Rag, Pembroke Magazine, Bay Leaves, Pisgah Review, and Kakalak 2009 Anthology of Carolina Poets. Her debut collection of poems, Rendering the Bones, was released in April 2011 by Wind Publications in Kentucky.

About Six Bells Colliery, Wales 1940–“Six Bells Colliery” was inspired by the photo of a miner emerging from a Welsh mine, his face blackened by coal dust but his eyes alight. I wanted to explore the world of men and women who spend their days (or nights) in a difficult or dangerous occupation and who long for something better for their children.