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June 27, 2014

Poetry Friday--A Sketchbook Project Two-fer

Photos of two children, separated by many miles [please click on them to enlarge for more detail]. Two poems for my Sketchbook Project.

Caption: Young girl working in Anniston Yarn Mills. Location: Anniston, Alabama. Date: November 1910. Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine, courtesy Library of Congress.


In the mornings I look
at the lettering on the
side of my machine.

I know my letters but I
never did learn to put them
together to make words.

Julia, reads real good.
She reads the waving words:
"American Machine Company
Pawtucket, R. I."

What is a Pawtucket?
It sounds like my brother
saying Pa took something.

Julia says it's a place way
far from here. In capital R,
Rhode, capital I, Island.

I imagine a place sunny,
breezy, smelling of clean
air. A place where girls,
like me, don't have to work.

Maybe, I'll go there, someday.

Caption: (For Child Welfare Exhibit 1912-13.) View in a Pawtucket, R.I., cotton mill showing accumulation of lint on floor. The air is full of it too, but photo doesn't show it. Location: Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Date: November 1912. Photo by Lewis Wickes Hines, courtesy Library of Congress.

Pawtucket Spring

My little sister is five.
She likes to pick the bits
of fluff that cling to me
when I get home from
the mill. She calls me
her favorite dan-dee-lion.

Poems © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

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  1. I love that you've given these folks a voice.

    1. Everyone's story should be heard--even if it happened 100 years ago.

  2. Powerful, Diane. --Jet

  3. Love how you captured the wistful feeling on that girl's face, and how you were able to find a light moment for the second photo -- looks like a dreary place to work!

    1. I think every life is made up of both good and bad experiences. I get depressed only writing about the unbelievably bad ones, so I always try to throw in some good for balance.

  4. These are all so powerful and poignant - thanks for investing in them and sharing with us!

    1. And thanks to you for reading and coming back for more!

  5. Love the words you've given these girls that were probably silenced by circumstances--and the Pawtucket connection that ties the two together (unfortunately not as the first girl imagines.)

    1. The Pawtucket connection was made because the photo was so clear and I was able to read the stamping on the machinery. I wonder if the photos we are snapping today on our phones will last as long and be as telling?

  6. A child is still a child, even if she is a laborer. Your voice is real.

  7. Two more beauties. Keep writing 'em, Diane!

    1. There will be about 14 altogether, so we're only half-way there, Monica.

  8. Love the connection between these two. Have your read Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop? It's a child labor historical fiction for middle grade readers. Lewis Hines makes a guest appearance!

    1. Yes, I did, Mary Lee. I loved it. I wrote several Kurious Kitty posts on Hine, you can read the one that mentions Counting on Grace here.

  9. Love the love that bursts through the second poem.