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The Butter Factory Analysis

Author: poem of Les Murray Type: poem Views: 9

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It was built of things that must not mix:

paint, cream, and water, fire and dusty oil.

You heard the water dreaming in its large

kneed pipes, up from the weir. And the cordwood

our fathers cut for the furnace stood in walls

like the sleeper-stacks of a continental railway.

The cream arrived in lorried tides; its procession

crossed a platform of workers' stagecraft: Come here

Friday-Legs! Or I'll feel your hernia--

Overalled in milk's colour, men moved the heart of milk,

separated into thousands, along a roller track--Trucks?

That one of mine, son, it pulls like a sixteen-year-old--

to the tester who broached the can lids, causing fat tears,

who tasted, dipped and did his thin stoppered chemistry

on our labour, as the empties chattered downstage and fumed.

Under the high roof, black-crusted and stainless steels

were walled apart: black romped with leather belts

but paddlewheels sailed the silvery vats where muscles

of the one deep cream were exercised to a bullion

to be blocked in paper. And between waves of delivery

the men trod on water, hosing the rainbows of a shift.

It was damp April even at Christmas round every

margin of the factory. Also it opened the mouth

to see tackles on glibbed gravel, and the mossed char louvres

of the ice-plant's timber tower streaming with

heavy rain all day, above the droughty paddocks

of the totem cows round whom our lives were dancing.


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