Thursday, August 23, 2007

Saw this on the Kenyon Review website today. Very apropos for the miners in Utah.

The Miner
-- W. S. Merwin

With a mountain on top of him from
The first day, he learns not to think
Impractically about the place
His life depends on. Three hundred feet
Down in the dark with its faults and slides,
With only a little lamp strapped
To his forehead, he gets by heart
The shafts lightless as sleeves, the dripping
Piles stacked like trestles of cards
To hold up the dead weight of stone, and
Concentrates on those veins of the dark
That can be used. Even his dreams soon
Are untroubled by the oppressive
Weight of the earth, and it comes to close
Over him every morning like a habit.
It may not crush him, but its damps
And the long hours cramped in the low seams
Will bow him in the end. He learns
To recognize his shaft-mates under
Their blackened faces, as he must, for
Even if he lives to retire
And sit in his doorway, bathed
By the innocent sun, what he does
All his life to keep alive gets into
The grain of him, and at last cannot
Be washed out, all of it, in this world.


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