Matter Of Heritage

Entry by: jaguar

13th March 2015
The Hollowing

I read an old miner’s diary
seeking meaning, a voice for
my untold family history,
it’s full of words I know well
made senseless by his usage.

Men and air downcast,
caged in the shaft,
before extraction.
Glimpses of him descending into dark,
emerging back into the night
dusted in black with strangled lungs.

He says they sliced off the hill-top
like a knife on a fingertip,
put the 'overburden' back,
to fill the valley,
to make the plateau
I look out on today.

It unsettles me
this recreating of landscape,
that some of what we think we see
might not be real.
Can I trust his voice?
It's a matter of heritage.

I thought language was a ladder
I could climb up to the past
but this has too many missing rungs.
Only the drag lines speak to me
I feel them pull through time,
we are still thieves in the dark
stealing forests from the earth.

A life of waste and spoil,
his sorry need and shame,
my heritage, upcast from the page,
his life a sequence of mean needs,
an explosion of 'firedamp'.


Overburden – waste material
Firedamp - poisonous vapours