Clean Coal Burn belongs in the tradition of James Wright, whose poems of coal mines and slag heaps nevertheless reveal love of a scarred but resilient land. In these poems beauty is found in unlikely places such as the haze over a corn field or the words of a man whose throat has been destroyed by black lung disease but who writes that there is beauty in the afterbirth of a sheep which steams in the spring snow “as if the land were alive.” While there is death—of miners or parents—there is also resurrection—in the new growth and new generations.
— Deborah Fleming
One Promise of Green
after a portrait of Helga Testorf by Andrew Wyeth
I cannot allow the darkness in,
though it waits just outside
the window like the eyes of all those
who would not approve of my time
alone with you. I try to focus on the light,
the way it glows upon your supine form
stretched out across a narrow bed
barely big enough to hold your body.
But with each dappled stroke,
the brush in my hand transforms
you into a marble graveyard angel
toppled by the weight of sunlight
and too many lonely years to count.
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