Cold Sweet Tea

Boys, who can barely write, kneel
deep down, miles out to sea beneath
the black-ribbed sands, before
the coal face and pneumoconiosis.
Stripped to the waist, mine's as thin
as a prop; a crab-shadow clawing
for coal to make a rich man richer.
From time to time he swallows
cold sweet tea from a tin,
observed by a sleepy canary
and a blind pit pony in the light
of a Davy Lamp. When the clock
strikes I prepare his sink:
water, scrubbing brush, soap.
Listen for his footfall. The house
within spitting distance of
the shaft, is going to its knees;
coming apart at its dusty seams.
Buckled and sagging, it creaks and
groans with each subsiding night.