She slides over
the hot upholstery
of her mother’s car,
this schoolgirl of fifteen
who loves humming & swaying
with the radio.
Her entry into womanhood
will be like all the other girls’ —
a cigarette and a joke
as she strides up with the rest
to the brick factory
where she’ll sew rag rugs
from textile strips of Kelly green,
bright red, aqua.
When she enters,
and the millgate closes
final as a slap,
there’ll be silence.
She’ll see fifteen high windows
cemented over to cut out light.
Inside, a constant, deafening noise
and warm air smelling of oil,
the shifts continuing on . . .
All day she’ll guide cloth along a line
of whirring needles, her arms & shoulders
rocking back & forth
with the machines —
200 porch-sized rugs behind her
before she can stop
to reach up, like her mother,
and pick the lint
out of her hair.
“Anderson touches something deeper than pride or heroism…she shapes image-rich narratives that convince all the way along in the details. Anderson’s poems read like stories, then linger like music.”
—Daily Hampshire Gazette
“Catherine Anderson’s poetry personifies and personalizes our politics…The characteristic Anderson poem…opens our hearts.”
“This is an exquisite collection of poetry, written out of a quiet bravery.”
—The Women’s Times
Listen to a selection from The Work of Hands:
Listen to selections read by Catherine Anderson at Perugia Press’s 20th anniversary celebration at Smith College, Northampton, MA, on November 12, 2016:
Poems “The Life of Wood,” and “Wonderland” from Anderson’s Perugia book The Work of Hands and “Attach” from Anderson’s latest book Woman With a Gambling Mania (Mayapple Press, 2014):
80 pages, $11.95