Salt of the Earth

I like my job
not the mine
I like how
the carbide lamp
spoils light
on the coal face
that goes down
down, down

Cool smell
of wet clay
grit of sand
stone under
my boot going
down, down

I like to be
a breath
in the rustle
of the mine’s
cave and feel
the give
my wedge
hear the chunks
rattle like
going down,
down, down

The cough
I carry
in my lung the
thin way I
take my air
I don’t mind
much when I’m down
down, down

because each room
the dust of where
I’ve been
each column
silts my lips soft
as my Ora’s
earlobe like down
down, down

But to watch
a place you love
get gone, to go
down, down

To be the man
who does it.


-Sarah McCartt-Jackson-
“Salt of the Earth.” Journal of American Folklore. 126.502 (2013). Print.

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