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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The Monongahela with its moonshine run
Snakes through West Virginia mountains
Past Morgantown, home of the Mountaineers,
Gathering girth and depth as it rolls relentlessly
Under the Masontown Bridge on its way
To Pittsburgh and intercourse with the Allegheny…
Spawning the Ohio // carving Kentucky’s border
As it races on to join the muddy Mississippi.
Once polluted with sulfur and coal wash;
Not fit for man nor beast, it bled red
Leaving rust stained river stones all along its banks
Times have changed // now the river runs clean
Majestic and beautiful for people to enjoy.

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Photos: Dwight L. Roth

I grew up in Southwestern Pennsylvania not far from the Monongahela River. The river has always intrigued me.  A young man I knew drowned while trying to swim across the river. We loved to ride the ferry that carried our car across the river. Barges traveled up and down the river hauling coal from the mines nearby.

Today at d’Verse  Alias Ha asked us to write a poem that included some aspect of geography. I chose to write about the river of my childhood.

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Masontown Bridge (2)

This is  a picture of the Masontown Bridge from my Childhood. The photos above are as it looks today!