“Coal Mine: Tour Notes, 70° N” by Alyssa Martens

Poetry Pause is the League of Canadian Poets’ daily poetry dispatch. Read “Coal Mine: Tour Notes, 70° N” by Alyssa Martens, part of the League’s Fresh Voices program.

Coal Mine: Tour Notes, 70° N

By Alyssa Martens

The tunnel grows dark. It is colder here than outside. I catch a rock as it cracks off the cave. Coal dyes my hands. A mark for a mark.

I listen to a tour guide spin extraction into wonder. He says the government plans to renature all hollowed mountains. So it goes. Except, how do you put a mountain back together?

Across the valley, a dormant coal mine gusts gunpowder clouds—clogs meltwater streams—stains flora grey—vexes fauna vision—

But we put on headlamps. Mimic miners. Invent a utopian underworld. Amidst an Arctic minefield. Where dozens of bodies are consumed by stumbling mountains.

Copyright © Alyssa Martens

Alyssa Martens is a poet, curator, and writing facilitator living and working on the unceded and ancestral lands of the x”malk”avam (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and salilwatat (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, colonially known as Vancouver, Canada. Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, her work navigates themes of migration, ecological grief, loss, and definitions of home. Her forthcoming debut poetry collection, Black Winter, mourns the loss of Arctic ecosystems from an eco-feminist worldview. She regularly facilitates poetry and non-fiction writing workshops with audiences of all ages, and has taught creative writing through ThriveYouth Development Canada, Megaphone Magazine, Arts & Health: Healthy Aging through the Arts, Sierra Club BC, the Bolton Academy of Spoken Arts, and the University of British Columbia.

Fresh Voices is a publication and workshop program created by and for the League’s associate members.

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