I cried when he told me about the ponies
how they shied from the light of day
and were worked until they fell
shaggy sides heaving in the dusty air
the mules sent in with lanterns
he said he feared the boom
but I didn’t flinch
when he told of the caving top
his hands tracing the line
coal black
etched into his ear
would I rather see the canary fall
feathers stained dark as night
quiet in its cage
or to smother beside a friend
he asked
and I couldn’t say