An Opening in a Small Town by Phibby Venable
by Phibby Venable
Sunday, October 03, 2010
Rated "G" by the Author.
Print Save Become a Fan
Quill & Parchment
I lived in a cotton town where the mouth
of the mill fell open each morning
and the people disappeared into the neck of it.
They said I could work there too,
when I was sixteen, and I did, but the lint
settled on my lashes & in my throat.
The knitting machines could not stop.
Heavy rolls of cloth were cut loose for replacement.
Production rose each time it was reached,
which caused a frenzy of desperation.
That summer, at sixteen, I had no desire
to thread or tie or tear anything but dreams,
because mine were in chaos.
Of course I wanted more.
I meant to carve abandoned mornings
of pleasure and brand new destinations
San Francisco & cable cars & Arizona,
where I hoped to follow tumbleweeds
into the evening of a cactus bloom.
I thought of walking in New York.
I thought of Emily in Amherst
and believed I would dress in black & white
for a whole year of my life.
But instead, from three in the evening
until eleven at night, I walked the concrete floors.
I ate cheese crackers & hurried back to my machines.
I asked permission to go to the bathroom.
I stood in line for my paycheck and listened
to the women curse the secretary,
who refused to release the checks until exactly three.
When I turned seventeen, I ran away to the beach &
found a job reaching life jackets around the waists
of women, children, men, again and again,
so that they could ride the water safely.
It was an amusement park & the colors burst
into a red/yellow/orange against the greens & blues
& I wore white & turned brown & I did everything
I could think to do in the sunlight.
Each evening the ocean threw up new shells on the sand.
I gathered them pinkly to whisper in their ears,
I murmured closely to them, a million golden hues.
Quill & Parchment Press