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.
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.