Womanhood by Catherine Anderson

She slides over

the hot upholstery

of her mother’s car,

this schoolgirl of fifteen

who loves humming & swaying

with the radio.

Her entry into womanhood

will be like all the other girls’–

a cigarette and a joke,

as she strides up with the rest

to a brick factory

where she’ll sew rag rugs

from textile strips of kelly green,

bright red, aqua.

When she enters,

and the millgate closes,

final as a slap,

there’ll be silence.

She’ll see fifteen high windows

cemented over to cut out light.

Inside, a constant, deafening noise

and warm air smelling of oil,

the shifts continuing on. . .

All day she’ll guide cloth along a line

of whirring needles, her arms & shoulders

rocking back & forth

with the machines–

200 porch size rugs behind her

before she can stop

to reach up, like her mother,

and pick the lint

out of her hair.

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