Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Rural Housekeeping in the 19th Century by Pauline Sewards

Every part of the day is for working. 
On a good morning there is sunlight when we rise.
Work fills all the rhythms of the day.
First thing we take bread to bake at the mill oven.
The smell is yeasty love,
thick crust to curl the lankiest hair.

Morning is slop, scrub, peel and simmer 
then all goes easier; a soft skien
of babies and rugs for old men’s knees.
Batter mixed with yolky sun and egg white clouds
feeds every child and farmhand,
sliced thin stretches for the Vicar’s tea.

Some days don’t go so well, cake burns to the tin,
hands heavy with water make pastry stick
to fingers, turns out sad as a snoring husband. 
Nothing is wasted, magpies take spoiled scraps,
we whisk and fold again
light crumb, sweet jam and icing sugar fall.

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