THE FLICKERING LIGHT
Lying here with nothing left but to reflect on the things
I have, and haven’t done yet, feel my body
deteriorate, feel my illness advance
the things I’ve not done, now I won’t get a chance.
Different doctors I see, same questions they ask
I try to tell them through an oxygen mask
“How are you feeling, are you well
is the mask helping to breathe?",“it’s difficult to tell”.
Point to my chest, as they ask “is it your lungs?”
but before I answer the examination has begun
pyjama top open, prodding with icy cold hands
talking in words I don’t know, nor understand.
More x-rays, scans and blood tests to see how my illness has progressed,
then see the doctor, called in by a nurse
I can see by his face,
my condition is worse.
See his lips moving, don’t want to hear the words,
can’t take it in, what I’ve just heard, as he looks at the x-ray
the shadows on the lungs I knew then,
that there was no more could be done.
Lying here reminiscing, about long lost, better days
as the medication takes the pain away
hallucinating, dreaming, glassy eyed
thoughts turn back to my long departed bride.
My childhood sweetheart, my guiding light
since she’s been gone, I’ve shed a tear each night
it’s many years, since up to Heaven she’s gone
lost without her, but for my family I stay strong.
Memories flood back, of my days in the mines
when my father took me, for my very first time
the first time in the bond, what a story to tell
told my grand children, “it was like dropping to hell”.
At six o’clock in the morning, your day starts
as you walk to a place, as black as the devils heart
the fireman tests, with a blue dim flame
for the presence of firedamp, or methane.
into the coal face, a humid, damp, sweaty place
bent over, crawling, to a dark and cramped space
where your only friend is the flickering light
of your cap lamp, shining bright.
The dust it engulfs you, like a black evil shroud
as you listen for sounds, for rumblings all around
while the perils of methane, is always there
invisible, tasteless, but deadly, so take care
My father said, “a days hard work never hurt me”
there are men in the grave who wouldn’t agree
good hard men, who worked their way into a tomb
mourning friends, thinking whose next to succumb.
Now laying on a bed, as the family gather
crying, wheezing, gasping, tearfully watching me dying
a proud honest man, still full of fight
as the dust chokes out the last flickering light.
Final breath taken, no more suffering,
no more pain, friends gather and wait,
in the howling rain to say their final farewell
to a man, who had so many stories to tell.
See familiar faces, only seen on these sad days
getting fewer each time, as they slowly pass away
good colliers, who are also lifelong mates
together for the last time, at the graveyard gates.
He’s back now with the woman he loved so much,
the wife he missed, her kisses, her touch
up in heaven, again they will meet
at the pearly gates, as she waits for him to greet.
But not being a man to go quietly to his grave,
a few words were written, by this man so brave
don’t mourn for me, as I’m not alone and
please put these words, on my headstone
“When I die, don’t let the word spread
I must be in heaven, before the devil knows I’m dead
for if he find out, and reads my obituary
he’ll tell all his friends, this soul is for me.”
Copyright Ralph Jones.