What Will Be, Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 21

Inspired by the images by Jane Cornwell and John Law

This small, soft hand, bath-cleaned
of sticky treats and all the business of a summer day–
mud-castle building, caterpillar catching, and treasure digging.

Like Daddy, as his pretend pick strikes the dirt.

And her heart lurched,
fluttered a canary-winged warning.
Not my son,
his cheeks sun-glowed, his nose freckled,
his deposition sunny,
not life-etched grey with
coal-tattooed lungs that rattled–
no more,

the darkness, dirt, and danger,
not for my son, the estranging underground life.
He will hear the blackbird sing,
and in the dappled light, he’ll dream.

A poem for Day 21 of Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge. Today Paul is dedicating the challenge to the memory of poet Dai Fry. You can see all of the art and read the poems here.

31 thoughts on “What Will Be, Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 21

  1. Amazingly meaningful, and completely filled with hope and guidance.
    My grandfather and great uncle were coal miners. My great uncle died from black lung.

    Okay… I’ve always wanted to say this, but have held back lest I seem full of doggerel.
    I am ecstatic about this ekphrastic.

    • Thank you so much, Resa! 💙
      I’m so sorry about your great uncle.
      I don’t have any experience with coal mines or miners, but I remember my husband’s grandmother talking about hearing them go to work or come home (Scranton, PA area)–and I just discovered my husband’s great grandfather was a coal miner.

      I’m happy you’re ecstatic! 🤣

      • Yay… about ecstatic!

        I did costumes for a fascinating movie about Brookside Mines in Harlan County, Kentucky.
        It was the last coal mine to be unionized in the USA. The movie was based on an Oscar winning documentary about said subject. Starred Holly Hunter. I felt the movie stuck to the truth, and was proud to be a part.

  2. Depending on where they live, it is to be expected that the child follow the parent’s footsteps – hopefully there are more options where they are and the child can be steered to other options!
    I am always amazed when some parents expect nothing more for their children.
    Beautifully done!

  3. My heart lurched too. It’s true that entire communities are built around one industry and there is no choice. Yet try to take it away, and people dwell only the good things about it, the community aspect.
    My great-grandfather died of black lung too.

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