This Monday the bus is driven by Barbara, and I’m grateful to her for the suggestion.
Wee blue flowers filled the fields until wilting time, then cut off low,
seeds shaken into waiting baskets and the long stems water-rotted
so the fibres fell free of the slime.
And the fibres dried, washed, dried again, teased, split thin,
combed and singled, spun into threads, threads into yarn,
yarn woven into fine linen, a fine buff cloth, bleached white
and pummelled to soften, for shirts, sheets and table linen.
And the seeds ground till the oil oozed out, husks caked for the beasts
in barn and stable, a greasy satisfaction, and the smelly oil
boiled once for paint, twice for putty, thrice for linoleum,
air-blown, mixed with pine rosin, cork dust, wood flour,
poured on a backing of woven jute that began its journey in fields
by the Hoogli River. Floorcloth for battleships, stained and printed
for homes, a durable cover and a bugger to lay well.
You always got a man in to lay it, with fearsome knives
and a hot iron to joint the tougher rebates and recesses
of your kitchen. Afterwards, the whole house smelled of it
for weeks, and relatives, neighbours, sniffed and said
how much they liked the smell, reminded them
of their childhoods, an industrial freshness, new.