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Coal Country Conversations 
by Ronald Tobey 


The first of May

Rain splattered the cabin’s shingled roof

With unrelenting truth,

Your baby only a month away.


Alice lost a twin

The smallest preemie one point three pounds

Life’s struggle couldn’t win.

Marylou’s farm three calves died

Froze in winter’s last storm

Five degrees for two days

Just new born.

Becky’s two-year old girl

Drowned on the blanket where laid down

In her crib,

The other twin now don’t look to make it.


Through the night

Heart racing

Sheets soaked

Your nightmare fright traces with sweat

Coal country conversations.

Dying plucks base cello notes

Among the village kin

Their vigil awake the whole

Moon full night

Around your kitchen table,

Care from deep wells

Hand over hand pulley rope drawn

Water from the bucket pure

To cups poured, sweet, till dawn

Knits the comforter of hope.

Resolve to protect your soon-to-be

Drew you back into sleep,

Guardian of sanity. 

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