- The Marvelous Nativity of Jeremiah Dixon, with Culminant Song, as Imagined
Of Dixon, the Dictionary of National Biography notes intriguingly that he was "said to have been born in a coal mine," but then leaves it to the reader's imagination to supply a plausible explanatory circumstance.—Bill Bryson
It's true that I don't knowif she was hiding from some man(a father? a lover?) with a leather stropin his hand and a jackal leer in his eye;or supplying baskets of cider, ham, and johnnycakefor a few of the men who were laboringin the shakily candlelit darkof what they called "the toe of the goddamn sock"—the farthest, lowest point; or simply followinga caprice: to curl up, fetally,as close to the magma heartof mother earth herselfas coal mine verticality allowed, and theredeliver her daughter (she thought it would bea daughter). What I do knowis that he was suddenly here,amid the greatbituminous or anthracite potentialfor becoming fire—firethat was stored in the veins of that cavityin the planet; and so he could claim,in a sense, two wombs, [End Page 114] and so two births: one flesh, one mineral;and I believethat all the canariesthe miners carry in there as a precautioncleared their golden throats and offered up a benison. [End Page 115]
albert goldbarth lives in Wichita, Kansas. He has been publishing poetry collections of note for over forty-five years. Two of his books have received theNational Book Critics Circle Award. His new collection is The Now.