Lissa Schneckenburger & Corey DiMario - Miner's Ballad

from by GennaRose Nethercott

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Miner’s Ballad

I remember our days in the underground caves
digging for opal & tourmaline.
You carried a pail & a coal miner’s scale;
I carried the lamp & the kerosene.

You never much cared for the cut of my hair
or the tales that I told in the quarry,
but as we descended I fully intended
to carve myself into your story.

We were sixty feet down below Watertown
when a tremor made both of us nervous.
No sound could be heard when the cave-in occurred
but a rumble far up on the surface.

Too quickly the stones obscured the way home
raining down on our jackets of gabardine.
I reached for your arm to protect you from harm;
you just reached for your photo of Angeline.

We mapped out the math of the hundreds of paths
that could lead us to ruin or salvation,
so further we climbed down the throat of the mine
praying we’d find liberation.

Our rations were low so we savored them slow
sipping nectar from canned Clementines.
All the while you stared at the picture you carried
& I wished the picture were mine.

At night in the deep you thought I was asleep
& undressed in the lantern light’s glow.
Your skin looked like gold ebbing out through the cold
as the shaft came alive with your shadow.

If I loved you enough would it shuffle the dust
or just snare on stalagmites & crumble?
I can’t help but fear hope only lives here
sprouting like weeds in the rubble.

One morning I left before you’d gotten dressed
& explored in a different direction.
& there at the end of a wide tunnel’s bend
I saw open sky in reflection.

I ran back & found you asleep on the ground
& knelt down to tell you, but faltered.
With the way out so near, would I lose you my dear?
Close by rose the calling of songbirds.


from Modern Ballads, released January 29, 2018


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GennaRose Nethercott Somerville, Massachusetts

GennaRose Nethercott is the author of THE LUMBERJACK'S DOVE (Ecco/HarperCollins, forthcoming 2018), selected by Louise Glück as a winner of the National Poetry Series. Her other recent projects include A GHOST OF WATER (an ekphrastic collaboration with printmaker Susan Osgood) and the narrative song collection MODERN BALLADS. ... more

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