Fall 2009

Edited by Blas Falconer | Amy Wright


Trapped Miners ‘May Not Be Found’

—headline, USA Today, Aug. 20, 2007

Nancy Eimers

A topic sentence can be found anywhere in a paragraph, but in the dark is there still a controlling idea? Probably everyone speculates but nobody says it out loud though it's in all the papers. I can already feel other sentences yielding to seismic vibrations that could mean the underground presence of nothing or something, additional cave collapse, small earthquake, a beating heart. "May" is softer than "will" but harsher than hawthorn blossoms. The mine's co-owner speaks for himself (and his "co") but this morning some of his words are in a minor key. It's time to modulate. He also says "locate"; he might as well have said determine or specify the position of. There's a sense of picking one's way through a proverbial rubble. He could have said park, stand, pitch, moor, graft. If he had said cradle our hearts would have pounded illegally. The final sentence may restate the controlling idea, are we ready for that? "May" is a kind of permission, a kind of transition to what? Concern for the future. Forward-looking corporations. Under 2,000 feet of mourning. For shock value the families' spokesman uses the word "expire." That always sounds to me like a buzzer going off at the end of something. A race, an operation. The end of something. Not that sound when a truck is backing up but a harshness, wires shorting out. Process paragraphs have a time element: step one, step two . . . . We tried one thing; then we tried another. Inside be found is a grammar of deemphasis. "May" is a small space, "not" is immensity. To get from one to the other it has to be so dark you can't see a hand in front of your face.

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