BURNING EYES

I watched my grandmother change her glasses:
one pair for distance, doctor
one pair for reading birthday cards,
another for filling in her pools coupon,
the cases’ metal clunk as satisfying as a pudding spoon.
Wanting to emulate,
wanting pairs of glasses to change and change again
(in much the same way as I wanted a handbag,
to open and close, put in, take out)
I stared hard into the flames,
burning my pupils in the glowing caverns of coal,
the shadows of fire,
the blackness turning to cinders,
flaking ash sloughing,
floating in the heat,
the slipping and settling of burnt coals
like clinkers on a pit-tip.

That night the mine collapsed;
my grandfather’s breath was stopped by coal dust,
black veins blocked his nostrils,
phlegm, the colour of smoke, streaked his lips.

I  watched my grandmother change her glasses,
wipe her red-rimmed eyes,
her cheeks blotched with shadows of fire.

Seam 17