ill fate

by Elinor Clark

the seven suffocated  one by one
            i saw it in the paper 
their faces washed in black and white
            we sat around the well-scrubbed table 
thanking gods
            you were in bed that day
illness synchronised with       fate
            as if you’d read the future in 
coal dust gloved hands
            found prophesy in Yorkshire tea
remembering to scoop away 
            the biscuit dregs         that day
your throat awash 
            with rheum the tunnels 
sank in stone                                 they dragged 
             out bodies         one by one
as we danced
            and prayed for you with wrong  words
ovaltine and chicken bone stock  
            not realising the phlegm was 
blessed
            the prayers 
misplaced         we should have saved them
            for another time