Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Poem: At the Factory Where My Mother Worked

At the Factory Where My Mother Worked

Once when I was seventeen, I visited the factory
where my mother worked. It was on the second floor
up a flight of narrow, rickety stairs, and when I opened
the door, the noise of sewing machines slapped my face.

I searched for my mother in the close-packed row
of women bent over their sewing. The floor manager
picked up one of the pieces my mother had finished,
screamed, “You call this sewing?” and threw the coat

on the floor. The tables were lit by bare light bulbs,
dangling down on cords. I had never seen the place
where my mother worked. She thought we should be
protected from all that was ugly and mean

in the grown-up world. “Children should be children,”
she’d say. “They’ll learn trouble soon enough.
We don’t need to tell them about it.” She did not answer
the floor walker. Instead she bent her head over her sewing,

but not before I saw the shame in her face.

by Maria Mazziotti Gillan

This poem appeared in Issue 3 of The Wide Shore: A Journal of Global Women’s Poetry. The Wide Shore (TWS) is a global literary journal dedicated to connecting women’s voices. TWS is committed to publishing poetry that reveals and unearths that which has been hidden, masked, buried, or unexpressed.

Maria's Official Site is at  Her latest publication is the poetry and art collection, The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets.