The Call of the Coal

Only the outcasts know
about Cain being in Eden,
Pennsylvania — the trees marked
with a tight slash like a beast’s scratch.
This is new country —
the gorge opening to a split-melon valley
cradled between mountains.
No river flows here, only an unnamed spring
that overflows onto skunk cabbage
and sumac. Wild onion and milkweed
slating unfurled fields
like stalks of Indian maize.

In Bethlehem valley
it’s summer, and miners
speckled with dust sway with moonshine.
Cain’s walking home in shifting light,
watching farmers harvest corn and rye,
wheat and timothy.
He once knew how to break earth,
sift seed from feed,
knew the long hours between dawn and dusk.
But in America, he knows only coal —
the sweet remains of his sacrifice —
the blood that calls him to earth
day after day;
as long as wheat sways in heaven,
he’ll follow the hollowed shafts
that swirl down into the unknown.

—Martin Taylor


Published in: on January 22, 2010 at 10:07 PM  Leave a Comment  
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