that black lung that i aint got


“…. is killing me.”

Driving the road was like driving through a mine field. Mining was destroying the land. Leveling and laying bare the world’s oldest havens. Ancient rivers. Glaciated mountains. Time had softened their edges. Eroded their heights. Coal companies set out to destroy the rest.

Surface Mining. Mountain top removal. It had many names. Give a dozen families a job and wash away ten dozen more. A tree in a valley where a mountain use to stand – government handouts. Without nature to protect them – without the trees, the rocks, the dirt that hid the treasure – cities and towns were destroyed. The rains and floods washed away homes and lives.

Politicians and their spin. Big operators and their greed. The green earth. Meant to last forever. To receive us home. In the end. As it begot us in the beginning. In the beginning it was. How much longer before it was not? Before we had to find somewhere else to lay our dead.

Would the mountain last?

But families need to eat. And who can blame a father for crawling on his belly twelve hours a day, through mud and water and emptiness, to shovel at a hole three feet from Hell?

Who can blame a man for sucking down poison and dirt. For choking on the rock that feeds his children. Breathing it. Deep. Deep. Into his petrified chest. Because a man needs to breathe. Just like his children need to eat.

The suits would squeeze it from his lungs if they could. Every last ounce. Shovel it onto the back of coal trucks and railroad cars and ship it somewhere to turn into dollars. If they could. But they cannot. So they deny: ‘The good fresh mountain air did it boys! It turns organs to stone and smothers you in your sleep.’

“That black lung that I ain’t got is killing me.” Pa jokes and chokes.

Lungs continue to blacken. Operators send out new men who have new families. To fill up their chest with black and grit. To suffocate and pay while they wash away their homes. Their land. And move on. On.

But families need to eat…

McDowell

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8 Comments

  • Lana
    Feb 16, 2006 at 16:13

    “Driving the road was like driving through a mine field. Mining was destroying the land. Leveling and laying bare the world’s oldest havens. Ancient rivers. Glaciated mountains. Time had softened their edges. Eroded their heights. Coal companies set out to destroy the rest.”

    Beautifully written, Buffy.

  • stretch
    Feb 16, 2006 at 19:57

    Enjoyed your blog … thank you for sharing.

  • Boxin' Champ
    Feb 17, 2006 at 22:27

    Wow Buffy Dear! what an interestin’ way to write. such Great! I really loved it.

    I’m addin’ you in my list to visit you often, Do add me ‘n’ visit me again. Hope you ‘re doin’ good. *Smiles*

    God bless you…..

  • hattigrace
    Feb 18, 2006 at 1:54

    The only thing wrong with your story today was I could not sit on my porch to read it. Your words take me away. I feel what you write. What a gift you are.

  • Meryl
    Feb 19, 2006 at 6:35

    I loved it! You`re very talented writer

  • Richard
    Feb 20, 2006 at 4:54

    Found you via your Latigo Flint comment … I’ll certainly be back.

  • Dan Flynn
    Feb 20, 2006 at 5:49

    Buffy,

    Like your writing. I come from a mining family, dad dug coal in the North East and South Yorkshire until lung cancer killed him at 61. I started my working life down the pit when I was 15 but quickly got out. Too dangerous, too dark, too frightnening to a 15 year old boy. When I hear of the latest mining disaster in the US or China or Russia I’m reminded of the sacrifices all mining families make for King Coal.

    Excellent writing Buffy, really good.

    x

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