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Sweat shop sheet

Linda Stevenson |  14 May 2017


Selected poems


New sheet

I bought queen size
to tuck in well
under the sides and end
of my double bed,

360 weave, dearer
but better;
this largesse I can afford,
the extra sheen, quality.

I smooth its creases,
throw it over;
my silly cat hides and plays
under cover, as cats do.

The hem is good to touch,
has a firm stitch.
I wonder ... who pressed it flat,
by whose hand

was the white cotton thread
sent bobbing, in what factory
did my semi-slave breathe,
labour? Was it here,

a sweatshop in our own suburbs,
or a distant forced camp?
What lamps burned
through hard-pressed nights

of work? The sheet's material
is light, a white cotton,
beckons rest for me. Except,
I still think over it ... who dyed,

sewed, folded, packed?
Who went to their bed
with blood-sore fingers?

limped home
with a pittance
for payment?




Poison dust
in the creeks;
the creeks
with dark shadowing,

Wraiths of the gold times,
tin, iron,
coal; the sicknesses
ensuing ... toxins
merely marginal,
authority maintained.

Scratch history,
and the waters
gush out, inordinate,
nuggets washing away
in the downstream



Points of entry

I was reading about the hole in the cathedral
roof, someone's line
about someone else's line,
when the atrium I live in
its iron ceiling splitting apart for evening
and so that god could drop in. As sometimes
god drops in.
This is the wonderful thing about suffering,
just a sweet turning of genius words will light it up,
a matter of the shell cracking, the distance
between hearts disarming, and god choosing
the trillion points of entry
for the day.




As a child, regularly,
I made dense awareness lift,
dispersed it; setting it fine limits,
I'd nest in the space
between dado and plastered wall.

The clock my parents bought themselves,
wedding gift, struck
physically, on hours and half hours;
I heard its chimes, faintly,
reminders to fly back.

And when, in gaol,
I learned how inmates did that too,
went out at night,
practised the radical travelling craft,
it was small surprise.

You have to escape somehow,
at least try.

I'm conversing now with people
trapped on Manus, legitimate refugees.
I don't like to question them bluntly,
but I wonder, do they do it...
rise up out of their weeping,

out of their no-comfort beds,
clasping see-through prisoner banners
in their hungry, see-through arms,
listening for any sounds of actual hope,
listening ... to time breathing?


Linda StevensonLinda Stevenson is a Melbourne poet who writes about the environment, political/moral issues and matters of the spirit. Her chapbook The Tipping Point, a collection of ecopoems, was published in 2015.


Linda Stevenson


Comments should be short, respectful and on topic. Email is requested for identification purposes only.

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Submitted comments

Points of Entry - so evocative Prisoners - poignant New Sheet - thoughtful Nuggets - your environmental comments are always sharp and on point in other words, I appreciate your art, Linda.

Frances Yule 16 May 2017

Dear Linda, I just love your poems, particularly the one about Manus. You might like to send some of your work in for our next competition. Look us up on the web. www.poeticachristi.org.au

Jean SIetzema-Dickson 16 May 2017

These fine topical poems read very well. I shall return to them. Thank you Linda.

Peter Walford 16 May 2017

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