“Sago, West Virginia” by Sonia Greenfield

Sonia Greenfield


The blast was
a rumble, rock cascade,
stone seal. The cave
was a pinpoint
of un-light, a hole,
whole. The wives
cried. The coal
a black ribbon pinned to
a lapel. The gas
was methane in a shaker,
a drunken slew. The lung
an inky sac that
wrapped a greater body
in a bag. The letters
said goodbye. The miners
pulled a curtain, prayed
a sinner’s prayer.
The lamp, a night light
as each crawled
into sleep. The survivor
made a baker’s
dozen. The twelve
no longer there.

from Rattle #36, Winter 2011


Sonia Greenfield: “Sometimes there are some tragedies that I can’t shake, and I try to work them out with words. Maybe it’s my own therapy. Maybe if I apply language, which is sensible, to that which seems senseless, I can make peace with the human condition. I’m not sure it’s working. Martin Toler, one of the miners, left a note that read: ‘Tell all I see them on the other side. It wasn’t bad. I just went to sleep.’ I hope every word of his note is true.” (link)

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