The Miner’s Hall, Durham.

I see him bent among the flowers
to pluck a weed during my tour,
gesturing like the old stone statues
grave on the sculpted lawn,
peeking at rhubarb in chimney pots
or knee high in a garden ditch
stroking the sooted soil
from bare white celery hearts.

I see him stood back on his heels
straight backed and smiling
navigating the great hall
the window’s light behind him
cloth cap in hand and shining hair
white against the polished panel
the black ledger in his hand,
this same poem book I hold in mine.

I see him young and hungry
deep in the coal black damp
belly down in the dripping depths
chipping the dead black gold,
like fossil fern
sweat streaks his carbon’d face
shining dimly in the Davy’s light.
A time I never knew him.

I see him strolling
along the breezy promenade
head high in his autumn sun
cloth cap, dark suit and waistcoat,
the watch chain hung across his chest
a giant among boats and winches;
I follow in blissful mimicry
my hands clasped behind my back.

His cottage, here in this time,
tear blurred in the sudden moment
it rose before me on the hill’s crest,
has broke time’s grasp. One week we spent,
but not a brick has changed.
He may this moment glance
round the old yard door
and raise his cap .. to me.


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