I was looking at the blooming redbud trees up on the mountain
And eating what was left of my chocolate Easter rabbit,
When mama came running out of the kitchen door, hollering about how
There was something going on down at the mine.
Mawmaw jumped in the car, and drove us down to the mine.
She kept repeating over and over, “My baby, my baby...”
I ran after mama and mawmaw as they made their way to a crowd,
Who were gathered near the mine gates.
Some woman in a loud, white Pontiac pulled up.
Her radio was playing a Patsy Cline song.
Tears had cut through the make-up on her face.
She carried with her a picture of her husband, who was in the mine.
Some miners came around, telling how there was an explosion,
They just shook their heads, and said it was bad. Real bad.
Mama began to pray aloud, and the crowd hushed with bowed heads.
I just watched the mine and waited for Daddy to come out.
More people gathered around. Rumors ran wild.
The air was tense; strangers cried on each other’s shoulders.
Fire trucks and rescue squads arrived, some from places I’d never heard of.
But no news from the company ever came around.
The news people came with their lights and big camera’s.
They were trying to interview people for the evening news.
They were looking for answers, just like everybody else.
With melted chocolate covered hands, I waved to them.
A preacher went over to the camera people,
He asked them to leave the families alone for awhile,
On TV, he asked viewers for pray for the miners and their families.
The news people went away, out to the road, and stopped people to talk to.
Word came around that seven men were dead.
More were trapped inside. Nobody knew exactly who or how many.
Everybody waited for news and for the company to update them,
And they clung to hope as the evening slipped into night.
Some men from a rescue squad came over.
Many of them were crying, but more of them were trying not to cry.
They shared some of the names of the dead they’d seen on a list.
The names of the dead went through the crowd, repeated from every lip.
When the names reached mama, she let loose a cutting scream,
And mawmaw fell to the ground and sat there holding her head in her hands.
With forced strength, mama whispered to me, “Baby, your daddy went with Jesus.”
Through my tears, I saw the blooming redbud trees up on the mountain.
The Long Trail of Shortia, part 1 of 2
20 hours ago