The culm dump burns all night,
unnaturally blue, and well below heaven.
It smolders like moments almost forgotten,
the time when you said what you meant
too plainly and ruined your chance of love.
Refusing to dwindle, fed from within
like men rejected for nothing specific,
it lingers at the edge of town, unwatched
by anyone living near. The smell now
passes for nature. It would be missed.
Rich earth-wound, glimmering
rubble of an age when men
dug marrow from the land’s dark spine,
it resists all healing.
Its luminous hump cries comfortable pain.
From The Art of Subtraction: New and Selected Poems. George Braziller Inc., 2005. Previously published in Anthracite Country (Random House, 1982). First appeared in Poetry (December 1976). Copyright © 1976 by Jay Parini and used by permission of the poet and Braziller.