The pitmen gather around the empty hearse,
standing like Davids around Goliath,
some with roll-up cigs burning,
a glowing tobacco-fuelled pyre for,
another brother lost to history.
The colliery band are gearing up,
it’s good to see them still looking strong,
a shame some of the brass looks dull,
but the sapphire and gold thread of the banner,
is still resplendent in the tender summer drizzle.
Bobby’s family give their thanks to the vicar,
with a handshake and bottle of whisky;
his widow unsteady from grief
– and a brandy she’d drank for his honour and her nerves –
is weightless in the arms of her daughters,
the sorrow they’re carrying is a heavy enough burden.
Some of his friends from the village,
wander around the nearby graves,
hunching over the headstones and fading flowerheads,
making empty apologies they aren’t there more often.
Everyone congregates at the roadside when the band begins,
ready for the march to the pub;
tubas and trumpets blowing out the tune to
‘The Bonny Pit Laddie’
a reminder of the man,
just returned to the earth;
close to the coal he used to dig.
At the pub – we all raise a ‘Percy Special’ in toast,
and the tales and tankards come thick and fast;
like pick-axes on silver-black mine walls,
did only a couple of years ago;
the only hush comes from the opening of the buffet table.
These ageing men who’ve fought the police and government;
legends in their own lifetimes;
know that they’ll be together again soon enough,
wondering if they’ll be the missing face, lying in the dirt;
some have a fleeting sadness on their hard faces,
quickly burnt away by the furnace behind their eyes,
and then songs break out with soft smiles
this is a celebration.
Thanks for taking the time to read this poem.
I really appreciate all your support.
Take It Easy