Michael Munas (michaelboy) wrote,
Michael Munas

Red Dog Road

I remember sitting in the kitchen while listening to WWVA for the mine reports during strikes and it always reminded me that before I was born, my grandfather and uncle were lost along with 64 others in the Powhatan #1 Mine disaster. Coal mining has always played a large role in my family. My dad worked in that mine briefly before going off to war and I worked for five years at the Powhatan #6 mine in the seventies. As a mining engineer turned IT manager, I seldom go underground these days but I have been in a few of the mines in Raleigh County.

I always tried to imagine what my grandmother must have endured when they ordered those mine entries sealed in order to extinguish the fire. I remember her telling me that she nearly lost her sanity. My dad was in the Philippines at the time and was not allowed to come home. I'm sure with the recent disaster in West Virginia, there are families facing similar yet unimaginable losses. One of the hardest things I know, is to recognize suffering and not being able to do much to change it.
* * *
Twilight in West Virginia:
Six O'Clock Mine Report
by: Irene McKinney

Bergoo Mine No. 3 will work: Bergoo Mine No 3 will work tomorrow. Consol No. 2 will not work: Consol No. 2 will not work tomorrow.

Green soaks into the dark trees. The bills go clumped and heavy over the foxfire veins at Clinchfield, One-Go, Greenbrier.

At Hardtack and Amity the grit abrades the skin. The air is thick above the black leaves, the open mouth of the shaft. A man with a burning carbide lamp on his forehead swings a pick in a narrow corridor beneath the earth. His eyes flare white like a horse's, his teeth glint.

From his sleeves of coal, fingers with black half-moons: he leans into the tipple, over the coke oven staining the air red, over the glow
from the rows of fiery eyes at Swago. Above Slipjohn a six-ton lumbers down the grade, its windows curtained with soot. No one is driving.

The roads get lost in the clotted hills, in the Blue Spruce maze, the red cough, the Allegheny marl, the sulphur ooze.

The hill-cuts drain; the roads get lost and drop at the edge of the strip job. The fires in the mines do not stop burning.
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