Dorothy and Naomi
Chunks of coal bearing the names of the 29 miners who died in the explosion at Massey Energy Co.'s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, W. Va. a week ago Monday, appear in a makeshift memorial in Whitesville, W.Va. on Tuesday, April 13, 2010. Workers were able to remove the bodies of the last 9 miners from the mine earlier this morning. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
It was deep within the mountain
But way down deep where miners work
For some it is but a deep dark hole
Outside of those who live there
It was about three in the afternoon
No mistaking what had happened
No more birthday School plays, football games
Many will be taken home to be buried back on the hill
Our prayer to you this day, oh God
We yell and scream at each other
About the Poem
The "Naomi" poem is a reflection of the 2010 disaster at Montcoal, WV, which claimed the lives of 29 coal miners. We can all appreciate, to some extent, the emotional rollercoaster of the family of a soldier in combat. The families of coal miners live with a very similar "unspoken fear" every day as their loved ones depart the sunshine to the depths of the earth.
Will this be the day?
Unless you come from a mining family, you cannot truly appreciate the daily anguish of dispatching your loved ones "to go into the mines."
About the Author
Gary Epling was born and raised in Coal River, another small mining town, about 30 minutes from Montcoal. After several years of being away, Gary returned to his hometown after the disaster and received the inspiration to write the poem.
In Gary's words, "I am not anti-coal since many of my friends and family worked there. What I do oppose is a particular type of mining called "Mountain Top Removal". It wrecks the environment and adversely affects the health and resources of those in a community. I was terribly shaken when I climbed a mountain top ridge and looked upon the devastation cause by irresponsible mining for the sake of profit. This wasn't just any mountain, just any river, or just any land. This was the mountain God gave me to explore, enjoy and love as a growing boy. The poem only begins to capture my sorrow and my anger."