(For Gran and Mum; wife of a miner, and daughter of a miner.
For the women who waited.)
There were no phones then, no quick ways.
News spread by word of mouth in the rows,
shot down the streets, barely hit the cobbles.
The women, pinnies still tied under their coats,
met on doorsteps in the coal dust evening,
and walked to the top end without talking.
An invisible cord of steel connected
all of them tight together, all of them knowing
without speaking what the message meant.
Strong women, like great trees rooted long
into the hard deep earth stood and waited,
heads up, staring out into the October frost.
Through darkness, the scrape of working boots
clattered the road.The arc of a swinging lamp,
and the low murmur of men, floated relief
into the stoic silence. The still coiled air,
that held its breath, let go.They moved as one
towards husbands, and fathers, and sons.
There were no cries, no given signs of worry.
The women fell in place beside their tired men,
and walked quiet back towards their homes.
I, going on eight and hanging on to Gran,
but awake, aware, never made a single sound.
I didn’t need telling. I knew, same as them.