In the Valley
Author: Ann Davies
Written in response to ‘In the Valley, No.4, No.7’ Ernest Zobole, (1962)
The mist is draped like a blanket over the land, it is dark and damp. There are distant sounds as the heavy laden coal trams traverse the incline to divulge their contents onto the slurry tip reigning supreme on the mountainside.
The gas street lights glisten like diamonds in the coal blackness. A Hooter sounds, its rhythm is short, no alarm – the shift is over. The Banks man engages the gears to raise the pithead cage from the innermost depths of the mine bringing the miners safely to the surface. Silently the men make their way home. Will is soaked from the underground workings; all he can think of is to lie down in front of a welcome fire. He is too tired; the fire becomes embers. A soul departs.
The river at the valley bed meanders on its way; some children have lost their lives in the blackened whirlpool within as dark dust from the slurry tip is whipped up by the strong winds. No washing tomorrow it whispers. The dankness lingers long.
In her sleep a Mother laments the thought that her only son will join the Air Force. She knows her two daughters will go into Domestic Service.
Her husband touches her shoulder gently; he doesn’t want his son to go down the mine – or dig tunnels in a distant field in Flanders as he did. There must be something more.
Dawn breaks as if emerging into life with a blink; uncertain of its future role.