Now it’s filled entirely, level with the earth.
On Google maps it’s glazed with a spread
of dirt, and mushroomed with the canopies
of pixilated trees, and a waterhole
barely the size of a drowning.
Boxing Day afternoon we filed down there,
away from family Christmas
along Tamworth Street, past the red brick
of the Mines Rescue Station,
to seek bottles and smash them,
for shits and giggles, against the sandstone
walling off the quarry from the school, or against
already broken bottles left by other kids,
a dumb archaeology, a sediment of boredom.
Other times we’d been there
collecting grazes and gouges,
dust and slivers in scabbed elbows and knees
as we scrabbled the hard slope.
The Abermain kids would get their bikes
down there somehow, in the days before
BMXs, and we’d be run off
the premises as ring-ins, outsiders, even though
all our fathers were born and learned
to hate there. The five of us, cousins and brothers:
Chris dead of a tumour just after thirty, John
vanished eleven years, Graham we lost track of,
and Andrew, named for the pit-working
grandad none of us ever met, silently buried and denied
before the oldest of us was born.
We stand at the edge and pick our way down, small specks
of coal beneath our skin, hardly noticeable,
even if you knew what to look for.
Copyright Greg McLaren 2011