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The mill's non-stop noise, a whir and a clangor,
follows him home, over the bridge and up
the hill, while at his back it goes on wheezing,
chuffing lint through manifold windows,

into the village with the lunch bucket knocking
at his knee, to bounce a kid on his knee
in the sunlit parlor of the four-room cottage
identical to the one next door, beside

the river that powers the turbines. The privy's
sulfurous stench stretches to the porch while
his own open windows pass heat and flies
and rugrats flap through the sprung screen door.

A rung up from the tenant shack, maybe two
from a hovel on the Rhine, a hut on the Liffey,
the Mersey, the Volga, he is equal now
to the terrace-house bloke in Wigan,

to his next-century brother in Coimbatore,
or the one in a cinder-block flat in Nantong
perched above the Yangtze, whose mill tunes
its waters daily to the color it’s dyeing—

red, blue, purple—through a little trap door.

Nick Norwood


Fall 2013

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