The Village Thornley Flood

Childhood is a wonderful place to be

children have no idea they are poor

when everyone else is too,


our village was small one of dozens surrounding us

all of them sustained by their mine

they boasted they never closed,

they shared a common voice

the village siren

it sounded off for only two things ????

enemy bombers or disaster at the colliery ?????


The miners were fiercely competitive

in their productivity,

of their women, about their leisure

some tales of their capacity for drink

their ability in a fight

became their stuff of legends

The country was at war with Germany

our village was at war with mother nature

these men had dared to venture into hell

stealing her black gold to fund the wheels of war

and the industrial heartbeat of England

they called it “The Pit”


And so that siren sounded one morning early winter ????morning

as children prepared for school

no breakfast there never was “the war you know”

with alarms still ringing in our ears

the street was filling with people voices calling

“it’s the pit! our Ben’s in this shift

where is your Jack ?

men were running toward the mine head

women gathering in small groups

following behind filling the air with panic

the pit was filled with men on the early morning shift ????


The mine-head a tall tower

With immense wheels atop

Capable of lowering a dozen men

In a cage a mile underground

then back again at days end

By evening the wheels were motionless

They had brought survivors to surface

Taken those dirty black angels

Brave volunteers from miles around

Into the depths again and again

Ferrying wounded and the dead


They called a hasty tally

For the wives and the families

Five men still missing

A torrent of water

From an earlier flood

Had broken through

Without warning


Families stayed on

into the freezing darkness ????freezing

throughout next day

and the next

hopes rising and falling

at every turn of the wheels


After a decent interval

at that place

management engineers announced

it was apparent that

all lives were lost

they were at that very moment

sealing off the area

from the rest of the mine

and so with those few words

the village buried their dead.


Copyright by the author 2003 Beatrice Evans