Library of Congress.
Look at him posing
like some mighty strong-man!
My petite suitor, standing
tall, arms crossed, with his
skinny little muscles
barely standing out.
He doesn't know this man
with the big box camera.
Why, he might be a
challenger for my affections!
Eugene need not worry--I have
my sights set even higher.
I'm looking to get away
Away from mill rats
and men, both inside
and out, who want
to capture my soul.
© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.
Fellow librarian, Jone, will be hosting this week's Round-Up at Check It Out. (Jone is also the person to whom I'm sending my first poem in this year's Summer Poem Swap, organized by the lovely Tabatha Yeatts! I'm planning to collect all my Summer Swap Poems and posting them together on August 15.)
There is something in the way the boys' arms are crossed. Your final stanza stood out for me, looking for a way to get out. I imagine there was a determination in these women as well.ReplyDelete
Absolutely. Without their dreams I don't think they would have been able to survive 6 days a week in the hot, lint-filled, deafening mills.ReplyDelete
Thank you for remembering, Diane. The mills brutalized the immigrant population. My Irish-immigrant great-grandfather dropped dead on his way home from a stifling August day's work in the Lawrence mills. My Irish-immigrant great-grandmother quickly followed, leaving my grandfather and great-uncle mill-orphans at 10 and 11. I'm guessing Amoskeag was pretty much hell on earth on May 21, 1909.ReplyDelete
I'm guessing so, too, Andy.Delete
Fascinating photo and great poem, Diane. Reminds me of my late FIL, who used to work in the A. mills. Even if their arms weren't crossed, their grim expressions would tell the story. I like that your poem addresses sustaining hopes and dreams.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Jama. What were the A. mills?Delete
A is for Amoskeag :).Delete
Oh, that's right, you have family up this way! I didn't make the connection!Delete
My friend Barbara Presnell has a wonderful collection of poetry titled PIECE WORK about the lives of mill workers.ReplyDelete
Great poem and the photo is a true depiction of life for workers in the mills.
Thanks, Joy, I'll have to see if I can get my hands on your friend's collection. I better wait until I've finished the project, though. I don't want to be influenced by anything other than the voices that speak out to me from the photos. (It makes me sound like a crazy person, doesn't it?)Delete
These Sketchbook Project poems are wonderful, Diane.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Monica! I'll probably post another dozen before I'm through.Delete
Love your project, Diane - and wow, those photos by Lewis Hine. So beautiful and heartbreaking.ReplyDelete
The man took hundreds and hundreds!Delete
So glad I wandered over to read this poem and peruse a few others. What an interesting project! My how childhood as changed. I suppose many dreamed to get out. I wonder how many managed.ReplyDelete
I'm glad you stopped by, too! Hope to see you again.Delete
You bring history to life. Your poems will be mentor texts for my students next year as we look at primary source material and listen for the voices.ReplyDelete
Mary Lee, I'm honored that you would consider my work for a mentor text. Let me know how it goes.Delete
By the way, how's the healing going?Delete
Mary Lee is absolutely right. Thanks so much for sharing your passions for history, writing, visual art... so many treasures you always offer up.ReplyDelete
(Oh, and, um, hypothetically speaking of course, if you HAPPENED to get a Poem Swap partner who was a bit swamped and not totally together this past week, um, well - look for something belated in the mail THIS week... :0! oops/sorry/grovel/thanks....!)
Thanks, Robyn. No worries about the swap! You've been busy setting up shop in that beautiful office space.Delete
What happens to her then??ReplyDelete
What a photo, Diane. Those expressions. It would be interesting to track these stories down through a family and see how this mill experience affected later generations.
If I had to guess, I imagine she continued to work in the mills to help her family survive. Then she married another mill worker and worked for as long as she was able. The mills only survived for another generation, by time the Depression hit, they were already in decline. If she was lucky, her kids were able to get an education and move out of Manchester.Delete
Tracking the stories is a nice idea, but later generations often buried their history because the reality was too painful. I'm sure many never got to hear the stories because lives were cut short by conditions in the mills (see Andy Murphy's comments above).