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WASHER WOMAN
She started work with the birds
lit the fire beneath the copper
ladled water
let it spill, cold and sparkling
from the lone brass tap.

Hands rubbed raw
hadnít healed from the previous wash
glistened red
with white petroleum jelly.

On a rusty nail on a green door
his pit clothes cried
she left these till last
till white sheets had been boiled
dolly blued and starched.

In the backyard, chickens pecked
sparse grass in cobbled cracks
squawked at pegged ghosts
on a swaying line.

Her mother brewed strong tea in a pint pot
watched her wring and mangle
check whites for blemishes
sniff at the boiling under garments
cough in the hot steam
lift a dead mouse with a coal shovel.


PINK CARBOLIC
Let the camera roll
unwind the bobbin
spill the spool

black and white moves
the warp of the widow
weft of a shuttle

coal dust in thin air
washed and scrubbed
with a line of truth

dead menís memories
flakes of skin
deep as a pit

mined wheels turn
ahead with no gears
a dream in a cage

clogs interlocked
a Cherub without wings
seams unpicked

coal and cotton
a dead king
and one sad dolly

Pink carbolic
seen through
rose coloured bubbles

Comfort with no softener
is the crack of a belt
on a bare buttock.
SALLY JAMES

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read another poem by the author on The Aabye's Baby Archive

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This page last updated: 12th November 2006.