Black Country

by Liz Berry

Black Country

Commuters saw it first, vast

on the hillside by the A41,

a wingless Pegasus, hooves

kicking road into the distance.


It had appeared over night.

A black shadow on the scrub,

galloping above the gates

of the derelict factories,


facing East, towards the pits,

mouth parted as if it would

swallow the sun that rose

from behind the winding gear.


Word spread. Crowds gathered.

Kids, someone said,

but when they examined its flanks

they found pure coal,


coal where none had been mined

in years, where houses

still collapsed into empty shafts

and hills bore scars.


A gift from the underworld,

hauling the past

from the dead earth. Old men

knelt to breath the smoke


of its mane, whisper

in its ear, walked away

in silence, fists clenched, 

faces streaked with tears.

© Liz Berry