Ed Meek

The Price of Heat

The Coal Carrier by David Gilmour Blythe

When the coal rumbled down the chute
into the cellar bin, black dust rose
in clouds that hovered
like a murder of crows.

My father shoveled bituminous rocks
into the open mouth of the squat
iron furnace, the flames glowing
with the fire of an underground sun.
I was only three, too young to help,
but old enough to see.

When we trudged upstairs
the dust trailed us like smoke
to settle in the curtains, napkins,
and tablecloths my mother washed
and ironed each week.

She stood at the top of the stairs,
one hand on her hip,
the other pointing to the kitchen sink
where the bar of lye soap sat.
Her granddad had worked the mines in England.
She knew the price of heat.


About the writer:
Ed Meek’s fourth book of poetry, High Tide, is coming out in 2020. He writes poetry, fiction, articles and book reviews. His work has appeared in The Sun, The Paris Review, The North American Review, and others.

Image: The Coal Carrier by David Gilmour Blythe (1815-1865). No medium specified. No size specified. Between 1854/1858. Public domain.