Anthracite

Anthracite Poem

Bradley C. Bower/AP

by Marcus Colasurdo

Here
the earth is wounded,
blackened and bloodless,
bruised down to its knees.
It lies raw to the look
like a forcibly taken woman
torn from a dream.

Coal.

Its machinery has returned to parts of itself,
echoing decades of harsh activity
done by scarred men
bringing up fuel
in black rocks of energy.

Coal.

A kingdom once emerged here-
gorged itself
swaggered
and collapsed.

Coal.

So many did it wound
in limb and lung,
so few did it make rich beyond sanity.
So many went underground,
never to return-
so few grasped a fortune
and left the ruins behind.

Coal.

How vast the thrust of a nation
sledged upon the backs of men
whose names no one cares to recall
enough even to spell.
Do you still remember:

Coal?

I ask this
for curious,
it is indeed,
how such a noisy empire
rusts so quietly in its tomb.
The land here has no more to give.
The generations are disconnected.
History seems:
a papered-over wound,
a tourniquet in reluctant hands,
tossed as trash
out among
the falling cemetery stones.

Coal.

If you still remember
then help me to remember-

For,
once,
this was my home
and I have come back
to learn of it again-
but it seems
that the land here is mute:
It can hardly whisper without wheezing
and to hear it,
I must fill my ears with
dust.

Coal.

Father.
Grandfather.
Mother of memory-
I have come to speak with you
and
to ask only one last thing;
help
me
remember…
Coal.

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