Thursday, 21 May 2020

For Now... (...this museum* is closed)

Pit bottom, for now, deserted,
Surrendered back to the darkness.
Ghosts of colliers past alerted
And begin to gather, to press

Themselves into and occupy
This hollowed earth. Fossilised fronds
Begin to sway in a warm, sly
Breeze that blew by primeval ponds,

Resurrection of anthracite,
Born again up into a world,
Never exposed to human sight,
As actual trees, before being hurled

Down by storm or time, as if chance,
Or some undivined divine plan,
Determined it would be so. Hence,
Tremendous power assumed by man,

Until, for all that industry,
A meagre mote of RNA,
Invisible, but broken free,
Sent humankind scuttling away.

Headstock is stilled, the cage locked down,
Canaries sing for all their worth,
The last shift’s hooter, long since blown,
Echoing through our hollow earth.

                                                                                                        Dave Alton

* National Coal Mining Museum of England and Wales.