Harry Humes was born and raised in a small coal-mining town in Pennsylvania and still lives in the same area, though the mine is closed and the population is a lot smaller. The coal mines and his father's work are the subject of a few of these poems, many more contain memories of the former life of the town. The landscape is full up with memories, it seems Humes can never go for a walk without mentioning the people he saw in that place in the past. There's a muted wistfulness to the contrast between the current emptiness and the former town, although Humes's matter-of-fact, descriptive style barely lets it show through; the title "Sorrow Near the Old House" indicates more emotion than is apparent in the poem's list of observations, except for a hint in the last two lines.
Although regretting the lost hopes of the miners' families, the author seems to appreciate the increase of plants and animals in their place; when he springs traps in "Frozen Lake" he compares it to prayers. He shows a change of attitude since his youth, not only comfortable in an isolated house, but now not as fond of hunting as he was, killing only with regret now. Most of all, there's a change of attitude indicated in the poems that mention his young daughter. These don't mention memories, but are haunted by a new anxiety, shapeless concern. Some of them represent the fear for the child's sake as a shadowy monster, some are in the way of incantations against it, like "Charm Against the Fall of My House" or "Shadow Matter".