Author: Ann Davies
Written in response to ‘In the Valley, No.4, No.7’ (1962)
The mist is draped like a blanket over the land. It is dark, dank and damp. There are distant sounds chug! chug! as the heavy laden coal trams traverse the incline to divulge their contents onto the slurry tip that reigns supreme on the mountainside.
The gas street lights glisten like diamonds in the coal blackness of the air. A Hooter is sounded, 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 to bring 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 known as the Banana Tip is whipped up by the strong winds. There will be no washing tomorrow it whispers. The smell of 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 follow, perhaps like herself, into Service.
Her husband touches her shoulder gently; he doesn’t want his son to go down the mine – or to 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 role in the future.