Coal Dust

It gets everywhere: windowsills, tabletops, the kitchen ceiling.


Marmor, QLD, Australia

This home is a good 3/4 of a kilometer from the train tracks.

Marmor isn’t a coal mining town, just a village on the transport route.

The starting salary for driving trucks at the mines out west, though? Somewhere north of $100,000. I can see why anyone would want a piece of that pie. Fly in, fly out. Live in a camp. Get the work done. Twelve hour shifts. Reap the benefits.

At what cost?

Always at what cost.

I’m enmeshed in reading Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate. Piece by piece. It is a dense, necessary text. Rich with insight. Please go read a copy if you haven’t already.

I want to be a part of making the world habitable for future generations.

This is my part. Listening. Breathing in the dust. Sipping tea with new friends on a porch and recording a story about the cyclone that passed over here in February of this year––eye and all––almost ripping off the roof and felling several trees. Interconnectivity in action. What fuels the climate system? What fuels the economy?

“We’re not tree-huggers,” the storytellers are quick to add. As if environmentalism were a dirty word.


Coal dust on the windowsill.

One of my hosts used to manage service stations out west. The miners would come in after work to buy a cola, still in their work uniforms. Save for a ring around their eyes they would be covered in the black stuff.

One day one of the workers changed shifts and came in with his face clean to buy a cola. She didn’t recognize him.

All is swirling but here I am, in the middle of it, probing the edges, crossing continents whole.

There is nothing else I would rather be doing now.


One thought on “Coal Dust

  1. For many people out there, environmentalism is a dirty word. They think green activists are forcing them to limit their consumption and hence preventing them from living their dream.

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