Red Moon Rising

Coke Ovens on the Mononghela (2)

     Tears flowed like a downpour on a hot summer day. All around, Jennifer could see the wives of the miners in Swift Creek Mine. Earlier that morning, an explosion trapped eight men in the far end of the shaft. Three of Jennifer’s friends were among the women anxiously awaiting their fate.

     The siren on top of the tipple sent shrill chills through the little coal patch. At times like this, the whole neighborhood rushed to the mine for word of who the trapped miners might be. Those whose husbands were safe, stayed to give comfort and support.

A red moon rides on the humps of the low river hills of the Monongahela. Jennifer could only wonder when it would be her time to weep; having a husband and son who worked there.

     Everyone went silent… as the men were carried out… one by one!

Painting of Coke Ovens and Mine: Dwight L. Roth

Prosery today at d’Verse: Lillian gave us the challenge to write a flash fiction of exactly 144 words that includes a given line from Carl Sandburg’s poem, Jazzy Fantasia . The line I included was A red moon rides on the humps of the low river hills…  This story comes from memories of my childhood in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  Many lives were lost in the coal mining industry that supported our steel mills in Pittsburgh at the time.

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37 thoughts on “Red Moon Rising

  1. Oh my. I’ve read of coal mine or other mine accidents — but only in the newspaper or hearing about them on the televised news. It seems so foreign to me having spent many years in rural Iowa and not living right in the city of Boston. To think you have childhood memories of such tragedies — having lived in the Pittsburgh area. It is truly a dangerous job — between simply the safety issues of being below ground and the horrible environmental conditions that produce black lung disease. Your prose is riveting from the first sentence. Thank you for posting today, Dwight.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You are welcome lillian. Thank you for your thoughtful comment!. Yes, that was part of life since I can remember. My father was a pastor and had funerals for men killed in the mine. I was taken along!
      Very sad when it occurs.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is wonderful prose, peaking our emotions and tapping into our empathy. If cave-ins don’t get them, well– black lung does; ban coal mining.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I love the sense of community that is felt in your story. The members are bonded through many things. That dis-ease of each, wondering when it might take their loved ones probably the strongest. I agree with Glenn, there has to be a better source of energy than coal.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. A well-written story based on reality, Dwight, and so poignant. The fear of the wives is palpable, I can hear the siren and feel its ‘shrill chills through the little coal patch’. The final line is disturbing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very moving, Dwight, and I imagine actually witnessing such events as a child would leave a lasting impression. I can’t imagine what it would be like working in a mine, or the constant anxiety miners and their families would have experienced.

    Coincidentally, I recently read a historical novel called Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell that was about the copper mines of upper Michigan, and the strike of 1913 that was led mostly by women.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank You Merril. We were on the fringes when these things happened. But when it was people we knew it was very sad indeed.

      During the stay at home time I have read three books by Deena Edens on kindle from here Angels of the Appalations series. They are very fascinating and describe this era well. Set in the time of Mother Jones efforts to get better conditions for the miners.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I cannot imagine the fear the women and children felt every time their fathers and husbands entered those mines for work. You have captured this as well as the beautiful sense of community these areas must all have.

    Liked by 1 person

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