Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Coming Home

When you left the house this morning,

I was sitting in my chair,

huddled over coffee and uttering a prayer

that you would come home safely

to sit down in your place,

a smile for me a gleaming

through the coal dust on your face.

You'd reach with blackened hands

like so many times before

to take my own within them

as we sat there on the porch,

and you'd tell me how you love me

and the way you'd thought all day

of the dinner I'd have waiting

and of how I'd always say,

"John, I love you, mister!

You've come home to me again,

and I've waited in my breathing

so I can breathe again.

Now go and wash that dirt off,

and, mind, don't track the floor.

I've dinner warm awaiting.

Set your bucket by the door."

Then I'd heave my old worn body

from the seat where every day

I sit and watch the dirt road

for the cloud that comes this way

when your truck pulls up the holler,

and I watch you as you come

and your eyes light up like diamonds

at the love that pulls you home.

They say you've gone away now,

but I sit here by the door

and watch for clouds of glory

to bring you like before.

Dedicated to all of the grieving families who lost loved ones in the Montcoal mining disaster on April 5, 2010. May God bless and keep and comfort them.


  1. Oh Karen,
    a tribute to all those we love, here today, far away, in war or peace, rest or disease.

    You could sing this, with guitar and fiddle.

    Thank you for your work, this is a gift.


  2. Karen
    beautifully said.
    this is pretty close to you. damn near only a stones throw. Sad for so many

  3. A well done tribute to them all.

  4. this is just brilliant!! Dedicated so beautifully :)

  5. Awesome dedication...
    Sad, but beautiful poem..

  6. After the amazing recovery of so many of the Chinese miners, the news of this latest tragedy in the USA seemed to resonate even harder on these shores as the dangers of mining were already much in the news.

    Very moving poem and a tribute that is fitting.

  7. A very well written, appropriate tribute. RIP to the miners. May heaven's gate open the doors to these hardworking, brave souls.

  8. beautiful, Karen...
    Bless them, everyone...

  9. A beautiful tribute to all the lost lives Karen.
    My prayers are with their families.

  10. God damn them who value the production more than the men who produce.

  11. Such a beautiful tribute, Karen.
    Bless them.

  12. how beautiful.... ultimate and unconditional love...may them rest in peace.

  13. i was pretty sure this was coming - but i'm still blown away by it. i think because it's not about the great disaster we see on tv - it's a small, simple tragedy we don't see. tragedies, really. the wives and mothers and children. the view from the porch. absolutely heartbreakingly beautiful.

  14. This has the feel and rhythm of an old song from that part of coal country, doubly fitting as a memorial. It's good of you to write about this.

  15. tears are settled in my eyes after reading this dedication to the families who've lost loved ones. my heart goes out to each of them as well. it's a tragedy no one should have befall them. i haven't seen anything about the last four miners... did they find them yet? i sure hope they can so those families can have closure as well.

  16. Everyone - Thank you for your comments and your concern for those poor families. As of this writing, there are four men who may still be alive, and rescue efforts continue.

    While no one in my family is involved in coal mining, I lost both of my grandfathers decades ago to "black lung" - the disease of coal miners - when they were both only 56 years old. I never got to know them.

    Mining is hard, back-breaking work. The men are well-paid, but they always know the risks. This particular explosion has decimated an entire community. Names of the dead (25 so far) have not yet been released. I can only imagine the futile hope held by relatives of those still in there, and the utter hopelessness of hearing those names.

    This poem, I wrote in the sound and spirit of the hollows of West Virginia.

  17. A lovely piece Karen. The salt twigs given by the miners to their lovers in my latest must have felt, from the point of view of the lovers, like they were being offered a small temporary peace token from the ground that endangered their men every day. I've been thinking about those women left behind every day to wait and watch, and the strange realtionship they must have in their mines with the deep underground places that consume their husbands days and may or may not release them again into the upper world. You've captured it all so well.

  18. A beautiful tribute to the brave miners lost.

  19. Karen, this is a beautiful tribute. The part where the narrator is watching for the clouds of glory as the truck drives up the holler brings tears to my eyes. I can't imagine having a loved one go off to work and never return. I also can't imagine the horrible feeling of helplessness the people must feel while waiting to see if anyone can be rescued. I am so sorry for the horrible loss. Thank you for posting this.

  20. Thanks to all for your comments. We're still waiting...

  21. A beautiful poem--the clouds of dust & clouds of glory are such a poignant pairing. The mine disaster was a real tragedy.

  22. You've done a beautiful work. It's heart-wrenching and completely appropriate.

  23. John - Thank you. It was, truly awful, and now the funerals have begun. So sad.

    Chris - Thank you, dear.

  24. A beautiful poem for all those who have lost love ones to the mines all of these years.