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ROAD TO THE MINE/Mary Armstrong Winter Quarters Mine, Scofield, Utah, 1900 The coach filled with men comes early, comes late, rumbles past cabins next to the tracks, fills them with shadow and rattle. Miners, drivers, boys who work deep Ui tunnels, lamps clamped to their caps, doze standing up, wrenched through the gash of the canyon to where earth is mountain carved mto tunnels and shafts. In Springville, tilacs have bloomed, but here nothing flowers. A few twisted trees between rocks, then the entrance to Mine No. 1 where men drop through dark on platforms that shudder and tilt, cables creaking them down through the beUy of weatherless earth. Two shifts a day filling carts with clotted black coal, filling their lungs with its dust, spitting the taste of it out as they pass between circles of snow on the mountain, coach swaying on steel, carrying men through dayUght and dark, rocking the weight of their bodies mto the mouth of earth. 14 · The Missouri Review HILDA/Mary Armstrong Winter Quarters Compound, Scofield, Utah, 1900 AU winter, I've talked to myself. Jake would say I've forgotten my wits, but it's comfort when wind blows through cracks and windows show nothing but ice. Jake comes and he goes, dirt from the mine on his boots, on his hands; there's Uttle between but the kettle's thin screech and scrape of my broom chasing grit from the floor. I move now as slow as the days, the weight of the baby cramping my legs. When it comes crying out of my body, it will smell of my blood and the place where it curled In darkness of water. It will open its eyes to my voice as if it had heard it before, and though Jake says our firstborn should carry his name, boy or girl, I'll be naming it Whiter. The Missouri Review · 15 SARAH/Mary Armstrong On the evening ofMay 1, 1900, a dance will take place in the newly completed Odd Fellows Hall. Tonight, TU dance with WiU. I know it, though he's never said how do, or looked me m the eye. Mama says mining boys are thui as sticks and rubbing two together would make a dandy fire, but WiU is fire enough alone. When he passes by our porch, a heat comes to my cheeks and stays until I fan it with my hand. Papa says the mining boys are coming to the dance, and that it's folly if I think they'll have their faces clean, but Papa hasn't seen the way WUl brushes back his hair and wipes his hands against his pants before he comes my way. Mama says that I get lost In dreams. I can't tell her there's no place Td rather be, dancing in the dark behind my eyes, my dress bright as ice In sun, and flowers I've not seen, but know from picture books, their thin stems pale as fingers, tangled In my hair. 16 · The Missouri Review MINE EXPLOSION SHAKES WINDOWS IN DISTRICT SCHOOL/Mflry Armstrong Dewey Day, May 1, 1900 The blast begins the day's occasion. TommyArnson pounds his desk—bang, bang. Miss Reese stops writing on the board. Pictures drawn for Dewey Day flutter on the waUs. The children whoop and laugh. Miss Reese demands some quiet, some order. Sit down. Sit down. The class has come undone; it's a hoUday of expectation. Sit down. Sit down. Shouts of people niruiuig, racing past the windows, thud of horses pulling men Ui carts, is the celebration over? Tommy Arnson asks, wanting more than that one blast, wanting another reason to pound his chunky fists. Miss Reese has closed the door. Children, take your seats. She spreads her arms as U to take them in; to take them, soft and unprepared, to where the lesson ends. The Missouri Review »17 REMOVAL OF BODIES/Mary Armstrong Coal Mine Disaster, Scofield, Utah, May 1900 First, the clearing of timbers and horses' deadweight at the mouth of the mine, then, two hundred yards to bodies of six fallen men, mouths open, eyes turned the color of...


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