Appalachian Spring 1978

Weak arms tucking a three-month-old child Sixteen and hunched half over the bed and half over the love magazine spread on the low table She chews then moves belly first. shifting her curlers Blowing the smoke from her lungs as the morning shudders through the caked slit by the door.

A contract fattened with losing changes (It doesn't matter the oldest say 'You still go down in the mines') The slam of the tipple jarring his brain thinking bland-faced of the spring flood from the strip mine The mud water in his sink and cellar.

The morning shift truck jolts on its rails spewing dusty miners and rattling the next shift down While the earth shoves out belly fulls of coal as black as the death of an uncle.

The wonder is the grin beneath the squinting sooted eyes.

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