Manchester Women – Past and Future

Queen Bees of the dusty, backstreet

Hives of tight-knit terraced houses,

Workers amidst the frantic buzz

Of tireless factory machines;

Holding up the living fabric

Of industry, family nests,

And bosoms in flowered pinnies;

Gossiping over backyard walls.

Our Mam was an evacuee

From Manchester during the War.

When she was freed from school, Mass, chores,

Carrying coal, sand-stoning steps,

She stood on a hill at night-fall,

Listened for the drones, watched foe-planes

Swoop over, sting her hometown.

Bombs loaded like pollen sacs dropped,

Making silhouettes of churches,

Chimneys, with fire; blossoms of smoke.

Our Mam had a pram, heavy with

Clean, blithe babies, or dirty clothes

She pushed to the Public Wash-house.

Mam had a bee in her bonnet

About Turing, our heritage,

Working-class folk of the City.

‘We should tend to our own,’ she said,

‘All that has made Manchester great.’

Today her daughters join the swarms

Of mad-busy traffic, labour

In glass and concrete colonies,

Lead from cells of streets and chambers,

Cross-fertilise community

Blooms; Cohesion, Conservation.

Keepers, guardians, collective

Voices catching flies with honey;

Hum of humanity, knowing

The fate of the bee is our fate.

©Pamela Turton 2018