My Back Pages
Come gather 'round friends and I'll tell you a tale, of when
the red iron pits ran a-plenty.
But the cardboard filled windows and old men on the benches
tell you now that the whole town is empty.
In the north end of town my own children are grown, but I
was raised on the other.
In the wee hours of youth my mother took sick, and I was
brought up by my brother.
The iron ore poured as the years passed the door, the drag
lines an' the shovels they was a-humming.
'Til one day my brother failed to come home the same as my
father before him.
Well a long winter's wait from the window I watched. My
friends they couldn't have been kinder.
And my schooling was cut as I quit in the spring to marry
John Thomas, a miner.
Oh the years passed again, and the givin' was good, with the
lunch bucket filled every season.
What with three babies born, the work was cut down to a half
a day's shift with no reason.
Then the shaft was soon shut, and more work was cut, and the
fire in the air, it felt frozen.
'Til a man come to speak, and he said in one week that
number eleven was closin'.
They complained in the East, they are paying too high. They
say that your ore ain't worth digging.
That it's much cheaper down in the South American towns
where the miners work almost for nothing.
So the mining gates locked, and the red iron rotted, and the
room smelled heavy from drinking.
Where the sad, silent song made the hour twice as long as I
waited for the sun to go sinking.
I lived by the window as he talked to himself, this silence
of tongues it was building.
Then one morning's wake, the bed it was bare, and I's left
alone with three children.
The summer is gone, the ground's turning cold, the stores
one by one they're a-foldin'.
My children will go as soon as they grow. Well, there ain't
nothing here now to hold them
Submitted by Stephen Sander