Big thank you from

Hilden Mill

by Eithne Hamill

The tall brick chimney towers over tiny houses
Steam spurts out furiously as a horn blasts piercingly over the sleeping town:
Workers summoned to another hard day's graft inside the dark mill.

Down 41 steps they trudge
Pouring onto the towpath,
An assortment of labour:
Some yet children on half-time;
Sad destinies already set.
Lateness chastised by heavy gates clanging shut:
A day's precious pay lost.

Inside sunless rooms they sweat.
Dim figures hunched over heavy machines.
Silhouettes in a mist of musty dankness.
Deafening noise drowning speech.
Wet spinners, barefoot, slither on damp floors
Hoping to make a bonus this week.


Peace is a sitting still
On standby
Or when the musak ceases
Silence in the supermarket.
Say you're home from shopping
With a coffee and the phone kaputt
Watching the telly how the earth
Was snowbound aeons ago.

So calm - is peace just that?
Absence of brawling?
Yobos slanging in the mall?
By the bus stop Friday afternoon.
The bend in the road and
Backlog to the small station.

"Peace be with you" in church shaking
Some helpless body's hand
Unlocked houses.
Keys hammered to cyphers.

"Peace in our time"
Scraps of paper falling like snow
Fell on the tropics once
And the lights went out in Europe?

Once in infant summers when roses blew
Or stretched out lately on
A golden sandy beach
Away from the bill-tormented sweet home
A white yacht winking
Wee waves paddling up to the toes.

Just as the sand grains penetrate my
Bikini and start working their way up
Creating a maddening itch.