By Matt Steel
26 May 2021

Lamplight still shines
in what I must take for a mind: I see
how it limns round corridors, glints
on mineral motes, reaches
into void that will cave
after charges, wrongly placed,
disorder backbreaking work –
untold days, shoulder by cheek, hafts
hand-smooth and coal-dark, blades
full, guzzling, grinding as we forced
our way into that cool mountainous heart. 

Prophets we were not,
could not predict the hundred-ton river
of dry-stack shale held
between beds of granite, ponderous,
to fall, crush
the air and all else from us,
spirits expressed in earth’s mighty exhale –
and only now do I remember
the shrill song of canaries, only now
do I see that headlong rush to stoke
the coals of avarice was flight
from myself, all order, all reason,
unable now to warn the young ones who charge
heedless toward my catacomb, ready
to that shady glen’s sunken face,
eyes feverish, gleaming
like diamonds I could never reach.