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About this poet

Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1954, Catherine Anderson is the author of The Work of Hands (Perugia Press, 2000) and In the Mother Tongue (1983). She has published in the Harvard Review, the Journal, the Women's Review of Books, the anthologies Working Classics: Poems of Industrial Life and Poetry 180, and other journals. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, and is the Director of Development at the Kansas City Zoo.

Womanhood

Catherine Anderson
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 a 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 size rugs behind her
before she can stop
to reach up, like her mother, 
and pick the lint
out of her hair.

From Working Classics: Poems on Industrial Life, edited by Peter Oresick and Nicholas Coles, published by the University of Illinois Press. Copyright © 1983 Catherine Anderson. Used with permission.

Catherine Anderson

Catherine Anderson

Catherine Anderson is the author of The Work of Hands (Perugia Press,