The Tuesday Poem community is an initiative by New Zealand writer Mary McCallum, and others , to post a poem every Tuesday. Thirty writers each post a poem on their own blog, and each week there is one post on the main Tuesday Poem hub site.
I have finally taken the plunge and joined them.
This week, the Pike River Coal Mine disaster has been much on our minds here in the South Island. And so, I thought of Jim Brock and his book The Sunshine Mine Disaster. Jim is an associate professor of English at Florida Gulf Coast University, who blogs at Gods and Money. He has kindly allowed me to post a poem from his collection this week.
Of course, each mining accident is different. The Sunshine Mine Disaster took place in a silver mine in Idaho. There are similarities but there are also differences, nevertheless it is a fine collection of poems. Some address the disaster more directly, others are concerned with the miners involved. I was attracted to Aubade because although we don't have elk here, we do have deer - not native to New Zealand, but introduced for hunting - and I'm sure many of the West Coast miners would have been keen hunters in their spare time.
Aubade: Good Daylight
If a man doesn’t like to rush,
and I don’t, he can spend a half hour
in the dry-house: pull on his t-shirt,
overalls, wool socks, steel-toed
rubber boots, helmet, belt,
battery pack and light, a denim
jacket. And still time to make
good daylight at 6:30 a.m.
in Big Creek Canyon. Most
Mays, on the ridge above the Crescent
Mine, you can see ten or
twelve head of elk below the snow
line. It’s easy, in this work,
to think of cave paintings, when
you see wildlife in the dawn’s
light, before pounding the face
with dynamite, mucking out
the rock, clearing the new ground.
But I don’t like that kind
of confusion. Extraction counts
for nothing, save the pay dirt.
And those paintings are just some
lines, guttural and round, copies
of animals that had come out
of nowhere and had nowhere
to go on this slow earth. Today
three elk appear, two females
and a calf, feeding off
the greening bitter-brush. To the
calf, I say, “Grow fat, bastard,”
as I measure the distances of two
Octobers with a thumb, a hair
Footnote: My own poem, Blue, is the Tuesday Poem at Helen Lowe's website this week.