Penwortham Mill

You stand there like a mirage, between past
and future, gaping windows filled with shadows.
Your dark cacophony echoes the power
of thirty water horses, steaming at
the engines. Smash of wood and harpists’s strum,
strings corded, plucked and distaffs spun. Winged shuttles
flung. Watson’s drum drives the decadent dirge
of industry. Deracinated orphans
bend and toil at the tortuous looms.
They lead lives stone deaf and cold as their suppers
‘til Sunday brings stiff collars and church parade.
The day the bank breaks, the escapee orphans
are swallowed by forgetting, the factory
passed on. And all the lint in Penwortham
will not plug the wounds of the abandoned young.

You stand there like a coda, vacant labyrinth
to history. An industrial god,
unsealable by band-aids, in the deep
and silent reservoir thirty horse strong.
By demolition trucks your walls might be
broken, windows paned, stark being undone.
Yet your memory will live on, a dark
flat face miming disturbance from the water,
reflection of our past for centuries to come.

Penwortham Mill

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