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Cracked and broken figurines
Of clay and dust
And aching
Lines of ore are caught,
Gutted out
And craned aloft,
Boxed and bagged
And carted off.
Carved from cliffs of sunless age
Bared and naked in the light
Of lanterns dusky
Lungs all lined with darkening dust.
Hushing breaths suppress and gag
And count the hours
The hours
Ours the waiting days.
The smelting melting boil of cauldrons
Flames the passion of the earth
To trickle off the iron ore
Iron ore
Or wait alone.
Eyes all sweat and foreheads weep
Scalding breath and craving sleep
As liquefied the earth is stirred
And metal twisted
Cogs and churns
And hot air rises, hot air burns
And ashes salt the cavern’s mouth.
Knees to chests the people crawl
Unaware of time or days.
And clammy hands too tired to pray
Hold black machinery at bay.
Rivers all divert and piped
They soothe the scalding press and pain,
Cool the water takes
The edge of simmering flames.
Factory games.
All ashamed.
Hide in hardhats and numbered names.
Bare the soul and scar the heart
Cover thought and tear apart
The fragments left of hope and sun
Aching limbs as day is done.


Vicki Northern is more commonly known as Ermintrude or Paradox, due to a daisy chewing habit and having odd friends. Her favourite things include watermelon pip spitting contests, quoting The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and playing unaccompanied Bach. She doesn’t like riding rickshaws down the wrong side of a dual carriageway, aeroplane curries, or the beeping sound microwaves make when they have finished cooking. She spent her childhood in East Africa learning to avoid rabid dogs, cycling through national game parks and wearing flip-flops. She reads anything she can get her hands on, mostly due to the fact that she has never had a television. She writes poetry and fiction. Now she lives in Guernsey and wants to be Postman Pat when she grows up.

© 2007, Vicki Northern

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