Friday, March 8, 2013

Forever on Fire

This weekend's Trifextra challenge is to incorporate the word, stone, into a story.    I have dipped into the history books of my hometown for this weekend's entry.

Forever on Fire

A foundation of black stone. 
Coal seams run like arteries.

One February night,
the rats fled.
The sirens wailed at
No. 26 Colliery.
10 miners killed.
10 bodies entombed;
forever on fire.

My hometown is called Glace Bay. It sits on the eastern tip of Cape Breton Island in northern Nova Scotia in Canada.  Glace Bay, at one time, had over 30 working coal mines in operation.  Today there are none.  When I was 15 years old, there was a methane gas explosion, a "bump" as it is known back home, at the last big coal mine, No. 26 Colliery. Ten miners were killed instantly. Several more died later in hospital.  Attempts were made to retrieve the dead bodies by professional draegermen (mine rescuers) but they had to turn back because of the intense heat from the fires that were burning in the mine.  The mine was sealed, entombing the dead men inside.   The mine is tested, every so often, to see if recovery efforts could be attempted but, as of today, over 30 years later, the mine is still too unstable and dangerous to enter.  It is burning right now, as you read this story or, as I said in my piece, it is forever on fire.

The video quality in the song I've chosen is not the best but, the song makes me tear up whenever I hear it.  It is called, "The Working Man" and is one of the unofficial anthems of Cape Breton Island.  It is sung by a choir known as The Men of the Deeps.  All members of the choir are retired coal miners from Cape Breton. They are tremendous ambassadors for Glace Bay and for a way of life that defined my hometown for many generations.   I may live in Cobourg, ONtario in the center of Canada but, in my heart, I am a Cape Bretoner and this song takes me home.