In the blunted night of the coal shed,
without a torch, my fingers dig
among the coal for the coal.
Hear it scutter into the bucket.
Something else is gathered, uttered
from a darker place where memory digs
and throws its coal into a bucket –
as if a ghost stuttered, spoke:
My father clears his throat, curses
the government: ‘Thirty years in Rosewell,
in Bilston Glen, in Monktonhall –
and what is there to show for it?’
And what is there to show for it?
Flattened sites, non-places, absences
surrounded by meaningless villages.
The bars look like air-raid shelters.
‘ If the shops need iron grilles here,
they’ll need them everywhere.
Like the miners of Monktonhall
we’ll all know what siege means.’
I stumble from the dark into the dark
of that night into this, to light a fire,
to watch the flames rise and flare
into eloquent tongues.