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Industrial Lace poem – Alice Fulton poems | Poetry Monster

The city had such pretty clotheslines.

Women aired their intimate apparel

in the emery haze:

membranes of lingerie—

pearl, ruby, copper slips—

their somehow intestinal quivering in the wind.

And Freihofer’s spread the chaste, apron scent

of baking, a sensual net

over a few yards of North Troy.

The city had Niagara

Mohawk bearing down with power and light

and members of the Local

shifting on the line.

They worked on fabrics made from wood and acid,

synthetics that won’t vent.

They pieced the tropics into housecoats

when big prints were the rage.

Dacron gardens twisted on the line

over lots of Queen Anne’s lace.

Sackdresses dyed the sun

as sun passed through, making a brash stained glass

against the leading of the tenements,

the warehouse holding medical supplies.

I waited for my bus by that window of trusses

in Caucasian beige, trying to forget

the pathological inside.

I was thinking of being alive.

I was waiting to open

the amber envelopes of mail at home.

Just as food service workers, counter women,

maybe my Aunt Fran, waited to undo

their perms from the delicate insect meshes

required by The Board of Health.

Aunt Alice wasn’t on this route.

She made brushes and plastics at Tek Hughes—

milk crates of orange

industrial lace

the cartons could drip through.

Once we boarded, the girls from Behr-Manning

put their veins up

and sawed their nails to dust

on files from the plant.

All day, they made abrasives. Garnet paper.

Yes, and rags covered with crushed gems called

garnet cloth.

It was dusk—when aunts and mothers formed

their larval curls

and wrapped their heads in thick brown webs.

It was yesterday—twenty years after

my father’s death,

I found something he had kept.

A packet of lightning-

cut sanding discs, still sealed.

I guess he meant to open the finish,

strip the paint stalled on some grain

and groom the primal gold.

The discs are the rough size

of those cookies the franchises call Homestyle

and label Best Before.

The old cellophane was tough.

But I ripped until I touched

their harsh done crust.

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1995, Sensual Math (W. W. Norton & Company)

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Copyright ©: 


Alice Fulton

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