Working Boots


Working Boots

First Nelly had the boots, the Pris,
and then our Molly; then, when I were eight
they came to me,
and time to go to work
and leave the little ones, and be
a worker proper, and for pay.

The little ones, they tie up sticks
in firewood bundles, make mud-pies,
they pick the bindweed fairies’ hats in summer,
sail their leaf-boats on puddles.
And I looked out for ‘em.

But when I got to eight year old
I went up to the Works: you can’t
go barefoot there, so I
put on the boots. They nearly fitted,
only rubbed a bit, and there was room
in winter-time, sat on my stool
balling up twine, to move
my toes inside, and make ‘em warm.

There on my stool (the men
don’t sit, it’s just for girls),
winding the twine (it hurts
across your back, well maybe just at first),
I think about the little ones.
I don’t know if they miss me
now I’m off to work,
Billy and Fred and Lou
back in the lane, all barefoot,
doing their babies’ tasks,
playing at stories.

I made our Lou a peg-doll.
Billy can whistle, like a speckle-thrush.
Their games seem far away.

Written By Stella Davis

Read by Layla aged 8