The Voice of the Valleys

You could see the men were exhausted, trudging along the road, white eyes seeming to stare out from blackened faces, each man peeling silently off with a tired wave of the hand, kicking off his boots before going into his home.

This familiar, daily ritual continuing until the last man closed the door of his home, and the road itself fell silent and empty.

Only minutes before a line of men, different men, had left many of the same homes, and walked briskly down the road and into the tunnel, heading for the next valley, where the mine was.

What happened inside the houses?

Was every man greeted by love and affection, by a hot bath, by a glass of beer, by a warm bed and a warm body to snuggle up to?

These were words that had been heard, and they sounded like good words.

Or was it to coldness, no love, a silent house, an empty bed, and loneliness?

Those too were words that had been heard, and they sounded like sad words.

Down in my valley some children were playing on the swings and the roundabout, careful to stay away from the rusty tracks each time a whistle blew and the coal train trundled past.

It was good to see happy faces as the children played.

Down in the village, there was hustle and bustle, buying and selling, arguing and laughing, smiling and grimacing, before returning to their houses and shutting themselves away.

Strange that they did the same things almost every day, and seemed to be pleased that they did.

On the mountainside our different friends were quietly, slowly, picking their way around the boulders, moving carefully around the heaps of slack.

Slack - a strange human name for the remains of the blackness that they dug out of us.

The rains came, and brought freshness to the dry grass and the few trees that the humans had left us breathed it in, thankfully.

There was always just enough to wash away the dust and the grime that the humans created.

We have a vague memory of a time in the valley when there were no humans, no grime, no dust, and no machines digging hurtfully into us.

Some of us had remnants of other memories, of other valleys far away - where it was like our memories imagined it to be.

Then, an almost silent rumble, a whisper in the grass that only we can hear crept silently over the mountain wrapped in a whispy mist, into my valley, and the voice of the valleys came into my soul

and told me that we will be different soon, the humans will be gone

the grass will grow longer,
our trees will return,
across all the valleys all will be green,
and our other friends will return and make their homes here again.

I will not miss the humans.