Rocking

— Leslie E. Hoffman

Rocking
rocking, to-and-fro…

Alone with his grief
Grandfather rages
against the deaths
of black-lunged miners

Memories lingering
of a wrinkle in time
glossed over
when life, worn hard
as a vein of coal,
its spirit subdued
under steel-toed boots
from The Company Store.

The weight of earth
on miners’ chests
before the cave-in
of the carbon cavern,
its crushing vacuum
compressing, strangling,
abducting their lives
breath by wheezing breath

Until that day in 1940
when the whistle screamed
“Don’t take a chance,
it may be your last.”

Grandfather rocks
rocks, to-and-fro…

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