Ready Mades

Year: 1909


All day she works at the sewing machine, in the factory opposite,
Where the staring blindless windows gape in the glow of the summer light,
And all day long comes the clang and whirr, from the dusty, sun-flecked room,
Looking on to a narrow city lane, where the tall black chimneys loom;
Her pale face bending above her work, thin hands on the fabric laid,
From morning bell to the closing bell, she toils at the "ready made".
A sparrow hopping athwart the sill, glances in at the long bare room,
And it brings a breath from the city parks, where the jacarandas bloom;
Up from the street, on the other side, comes the lilt of a passing band,
But her eyes are fixed on the level seams that slide from beneath her hand.
In the drag of the sultry days she works her treadmill from morn to night,
Behind the blindless window panes, in the factory opposite.
And what does she think of?  Sitting there, hour by hour, in the beat and whirr,
Ah! What are the thoughts of happier days that rise up and laugh with her?
She sees the line of the pale blue hills, and the river like sheeted glass[1],
Hears the cattle tramp to the branding yards, all over the tussac grass,
And she sees the hare bells about the plain, and the windmill on the rise,
The long green sweep of the tasselled corn, that is grateful to aching eyes;
She sees the sheep in wool-shed pens, and the myalls along the ridge,
And she hears the swish of the brown flood tides race under the swinging bridge;
And she sees the gate by the ruined yard, where young love and laughter met,
While the night wind scattered the honey sweets of the unseen mignonette;
She sees the jasmine's petalled stars, and the buds of the ti-tree flower,
And she rocks afloat in the cedar boat, for one still delicious hour;
She sees the skies that are far and clear as the eyes of a dreamer's dream,
All the while that her prodding needle pricks on over the hard white seam;
And the thoughts of days that are dead for aye, rise up and laugh with her,
As she works the treadle at "ready mades," in the thunder and the whirr!
[1] Alpha Centauri, (1909) has 'grass' here, but it's an obvious typographical error.