All spoke the language of the Mill.
Separating, straightening, twisting
Weaving a life out of cotton
Processing began at 6:00 AM, stopped at 7:00PM
half hour break for lunch
Six days a week
Entire families offered their hands
The Opening room
Wrappings stripped off bales of cotton
Raw the opening machine tearing
Hands of pickers, lappers and fluffers smoothing it into sheets
the card hands feeding into the teeth of the carding machine
where it was swallowed, digested into loosely compacted rope like slivers
the Boss carder made $12.00 per week a card hand $4.50
Onto spinning room
to the slubber hands, intermediate hands, speeder hands
all women paid $4.00 per week
feeding the rollers of drawing frame
thinning the slivers.
Fibers wound tighter
spoolers, twisters, warpers,
A progressive rhythm
Oilers and sweepers overseeing the banding machine
bobbins spinning filling with thread
the duffers moving up and down like a xylophone player
replacing the bobbins keep the spooling
The Weave Room
with fillers, creelers, beam warpers
slash tenders. drawing in girls and weavers
more hands that mounted rolls of yarn
hands that raised, lowered sections
draw in hands lacing threads through an eye
designs for carpets, sheets, clothing
Ode To a Stone
I found it resting among the driftwood and seaweed
At an angle and in that light and moment stood out.
Heavy it rested
Chiseled and polished by the ocean’s forces.
A brightness glowed within,
as if it was breathing
Paused me to think of the thoughts
and movements it had gathered into itself-
The air, birds, clear sky
Balancing now at the summit of the cairn
on my windowsill.
brute matter speaks
endurance, density, solidity
Charles Carr of Philadelphia has two published books of poems, paradise,pennsylvania and Haitian Mudpies & Other Poems. Charles has been active in the Philadelphia poetry community for 20 years and he hosted a Moonstone Arts Center Poetry series at Fergie’s Pub forb5 years and is currently the host of a live monthly broadcast Philly Loves Poetry now in its seventh season.