Upper Big Branch
If anything happens to me,
I will be looking down from heaven.
~ Josh Napper, 25✝
A vein of love runs deep as a vein of coal.
They're both below the surface.
They both take time to expose.
A vein of love you can feel
when its pulse-beat's strong.
You need light to see a vein of coal,
and a pick to chip at it till it shatters.
A vein of love gives back when it's given back.
A vein of coal just gets taken and used.
Either way both can scar.
A vein of love mined with sweet talk
and flowers leaves you giddy.
A vein of coal vented wrong
leaves you dead.
Gas explodes, combustible dust rises.
Today's count stands:
Four plus twenty-five.
© 2010 Maureen E. Doallas. All Rights Reserved.
✝ An excerpt from a note that Napper is thought to have been written Easter weekend.
Two men survived the April 8, 2010, explosion in Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch coal mine in Montcoal, West Virginia. Napper, engaged to be married, died, as did 28 others, among them**:
✝ Carl Acord, 52, a six-footer called "Pee Wee", father of two, grandfather of two
✝ Jason Atkins, married at 23 in 2008, born and grew up near the mine he died in
✝ Robert E. Clark, 41, had been born again his pastor said
✝ Cory Davis, 20, worked with his father and cousin Timmy Davis Jr. at the Massey mine
✝ Timmy Davis Sr., hunter and fisher, uncle of Cory
✝ Steve Harrah, 40, known as "Smiley", on his way out when the mine exploded
✝ William R. Lynch, 59, in the mines more than 30 years, also a coach and teacher
✝ Howard "Boone" Payne, a 50-ish red-headed "gentle giant"
✝ Gary Quarles, 33, mined since he was 19, devoted husband, father of two
✝ Deward Scott, 58, 21 years in the mines, taught his wife bow-hunting
✝ Benny R. Willingham, 61, five weeks from retirement, known for his random acts of kindness
** These few and mundane details can be learned by reading various news accounts of the mining disaster. As of today, April 10, 2010, a full list of the dead has not been released. A recent AP news story is here.