June 13, 2014

Poetry Friday--Another from the Sketchbook Project

Caption: National Child Labor Committee. No. 92. Main entrance Gary W. Va. Mine. Miners going into mine 7 A.M. Boy beginning career as "picker." Will be in mine over 10 hours consecutively. 7 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. Location: Gary, West Virginia. Photo taken September 1908 by Lewis Hine, courtesy Library of Congress.

This photo immediately captured my attention and the child's voice popped into my head.
Beanpole

I was always taller
than the rest. And skinny, too.
Mama called me Polebean
and the name stuck to me
like the grin on a possum.
"Git some sun," she would say,
"keep growin' while you can."

Suddenly my voice started
changing. I grew a whole lot
more and I knew it was time.
The night before I went down
that hole to be a picker,
Mama clung to me like
I was a beanpole and cried.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.
I was overtaken by a writing frenzy, so I have a number of Sketchbook Project poems set to post over the next month or so!

For the Round-Up this week, you must go visit Catherine Johnson!

18 comments:

  1. Wow, that boy was tall! Wonderful poem, Diane.

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    1. And it is even more obvious if you click on the photo to enlarge it!

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  2. You squeezed my heart with this one. So sad for him, and his mama!

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    1. It squeezed my heart to write this one, Keri.

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  3. Wonderful series of persona poems, Diane. I'm enjoying this addition to last week's set. (Maybe because I have mothers and children on my mind.)

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    1. And those children do grow up too quickly, don't they?

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  4. His shirt sleeves give away that growth spurt, don't they!

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  5. Oh, I feel for that mother!

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    1. I can't imagine sending a child off to work in the mines knowing that a life in the dark and lungs full of coal dust will take their toll.

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  6. That's a good, strong poem, Diane. I can't wait to see more from this project. Have to say that my heart hurts not only for that imagined mother long ago but for the miners (and their families) whose jobs are on the line now in the states that produce coal. I'm glad about necessary restrictions on mining that coal, but my bet is the men in this photo not unlike the men (and near-boys) who go down in the mines today. Heartbreaking.

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    1. We continue to run the mines to save the jobs (and mine owners' revenue) rather than research and invest in alternative sources of energy (solar, etc.). New energy means new collection methods that could replace the jobs that would be eliminated by closing the mines.

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  7. The other guys look resigned, and his expression is more "How did I get here?"

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  8. I'm traveling this month and am only now getting to last PF's posts. Glad I made it to yours! Wow. What a great poem, Diane. Glad to hear this sketchbook project has been so inspiring for you-- you sure do know how to tease the stories out of pictures.

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