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Landscape of Chimney Stacks and red rocks

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‘Go on from the old men’s workings,’
My father says. And I’m already chasing
In his footsteps, not a stoper yet, I’m only a boy,
I have to wait above the ground, listening for the hooter,
Watching man by man go in cages towards Victory Shaft.
Some day, I will be one of those men,
Like my great-great granddad…
His hearing went and scars are changing,
They put his labour into mending drills,
Then repairing wooden structures in the Mill,
And he’s passing on his skills down the line
Of father, son, and myself, ready for the same…
The start and end of each shift in The Dry,
Trying to avoid the tea of mud on Fridays,
And every day, rinsing orange dust away
From the level where I would be standing,
Breaking rock, falling by the Atlantic Ocean,
Underneath the thud and scale of pumps;
This work must be in the race, the blood.

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