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,
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