Black Country

Foley was a collier down the pit,
Hewing coal from seams of slate
Striking the walls with chisel and pick.

Aboard a barge worked Hadley,
Dredging the scummy waters of the cut –
Dragging up treasures of copper and steel.

The buttons Dallow cut were made from horn,
Softened in fires, cut into blanks.
Empty pupils drilled through eyes of white.

All day, Tailor forged his nails –
Melting down iron, hammering the clinker
Into hob and tenter, spike and scupper.

It was chain that Parsons made.
Some dollied, others tommied –
Biting down upon itself, link by link.

Each man did as his father had done.
Blacker became the skies by day
And by night – the town glowed red.

Elinor Cole

Poet for June

The Black Country