Song of Sago
            January 2, 2006

The women in these mountains they are born knowing
And the thing left unsaid, like eggshells swallowed,
Is that someday their men may not come home.

Thirteen miners step out of their back doors,
Dinner buckets in hand, darkness before dawn.
Laugh and talk as they lay back in the mantrip,
Looking up at the chalked words
Jack Weaver writes overhead every day: Jesus Saves.

Then, fiercely, coal, mud, dust like a thing thrown,
A slurry driven by a storm back in the gob,
Into every fissure, tunnel, eye, mouth.

At first there is hope.
Then, writing on a scrap of envelope:
Tell all I'll see them on the other side.
It wasn't bad. I just went to sleep.

Into the mine an angel band: Hear the music
Of wings as they help the miners fly away.
All but one.
And just now, did a blackberry scented wind
Rush over the land contrary to the season?

In the little church people cry, pray,
Sing of wonder working power,
Power in the blood of the lamb.

Tables laden with comfort,
Candles in a row, blankets
For the hard pews.
The women do what they know,

by Barbary Chaapel

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Bouquets for Estuary

      "Like the movement of currents in bays where fresh river waters meet and mingle with salty seas, Barbary Chaapel's latest book of poetry, Estuary, twines land with sea, fire with sky, blending the substance of our lives with imagery and mystery, and luring us like voyagers seduced by mermaid songs, to "tumble into the warm moonlit waves/ ... and become one/with them."...

Beryl Singleton Bissell
author of Scent of God