A hole in the hill
A dank depression from where
matted reeds allow a rainbow slick
blinking into the light.
I approach the portal.
Grass drips a wet moustache
over the surprised mouth.
A joke shop beard of heather grows
round crowbarred stone.
Dammed by mud
the water deepens.
My legs benumbed.
Inside the passage
time measures in drips,
slaps, tinks, booms
to distant, confidential words.
Snatches of rap interrupt
from deeper within.
The tunnel drives further
Gradually, the kindness of light is lost.
Darkness now a velvet sheath.
Underfoot, the water shallows out
a rubble floor appears
sleepers and rails
covered in rust molluscs.
My upstart torch picks out orange, blue, flows
glistening maps of unknown countries,
invisible accidents of geology,
showing up in bad taste
years after the miners have gone.
Sounds become sinister.
I imagine a smiling, charred Loki figure
turning a tambourine
willing me to wade out, back to light and warmth.
I'm not wanted here.
A bend ahead and junction with a crosscut tunnel
Where powder marks, like futile fossils,
measure caliginous days of labour
chiselled on the forebreast.
Then I see at the edge of my torch beam
a ledge on the wall
where a clay pipe sits.
The old man.
Who took his ease for a moment to smoke.
This, the only trace,
of one who buckled against the rock,
gnarled himself with this tunnel.
Chasing the vein, hoping for blende,
drilling the blast holes, clearing the rubble.
I wonder about the miners, their thirty five years
spent in a trackless ocean of rock
every torpid advance another misfire.
Looking for signs of treasure
while Loki watched and laughed.
Turning for the entrance again
I imagined the moment when they abandoned
left the mine to fill with mysteries.
Out of the adit
The sunshine is an epiphany
of forgotten colour
the valley bathed in it.
I took the track they would have walked
down to the roofless barracks.
A black tree, long dead
stoops over the ruins .
This poem is copyright Iain C Robinson 2017. No reproduction or copying of this writing by any means, electronic or physical is permitted without prior agreement of the author.