For the Coal Miners

Ok, ok, already. Nat King Cole,
Billy Holiday, Mona Lisa: take everything away I love, but do not remove the coal miners.

It’d be like banning garbage collection.
It’s too much change. Go ahead: end NASA.
Bring the astronauts back, but don’t force the miners to come up for air.

We need them right where they are.
Let them stay underground. It makes
us feel better. They give us liberty; their presence down there makes being here better.

There’s a lot more to it than rocks, Mr. President.
The people will do just fine without men and women in orbit, but we can’t live without knowing men are digging beneath the surface.

Just ask D.H. Lawrence. Could you live another minute without “Sons and Lovers”? His father was a miner and his mother, a school teacher. Have you heard that somewhere before? It’s mythological. It’s Adam and Eve, I’m telling you.

If heterosexuality means anything, the answer is to be found in the coal miner and his future widow. Beauty and the beast.
It’s the architecture of hope and despair.
Do you think the Chinese will ever stop digging?

If we stop now, we’ll never get to the center of the earth.
Have you ever met a miner who wasn’t a poet?
If we close the mines, we’ll kill country music. We’ll make Johnny Cash obsolete. Dolly Parton will die.

It’d be like having dinner without Coca-Cola. Well… I could do without the soda, but not without the miners. There’s no English literature without coal miners. We are a luck society, and where else to learn of luck if not from a coal miner?

There isn’t a day goes by without miners somewhere being buried in rubble. Their widows function as modern society’s last Greek chorus. Without them, we are on our own.
Our tragedy would become forgotten melodrama.

Image Credits: Mary Maddux

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