The Sugar Factory Girls
The itch and scratch
of your desiccated skin
made raw with a dirty fingernail,
now symbolised in the gesture
of those who cannot speak.
You worked the sugary grain
that melted aristocratic palates.
Long dark days in sweet-smelling dust,
Your sweaty labour that tantalised taste,
refined the bitter teas of the Indies,
the soft sponge of Madeira, Éclair, Torte.
You could speak of impoverishment,
the sweet slavery that lashed your skin,
soured your wretched lives.
John Saunders was born in Co. Wexford, and now lives in Co. Offaly. His first collection ‘After the Accident’ was published in 2010 by Lapwing Press, Belfast. His poems have appeared in Abridged, Revival, The Moth, The Caterpillar Crannog, Prairie Schooner Literary Journal, Poetry Bus, the Irish Times, Sharp Review, Skylight 47, Boyne Berries, and Riposte, and on line; The Smoking Poet, Minus Nine Squared, The First Cut, The Weary Blues, Burning Bush 2, Weekenders, The Irish Literary Review, The Lake Journal, The Galway Review, Spinoza Blue, Poetic Diversity, The Linnet’s Wings, In Other Words; Merida, First Literary Review-East, Deep Water Literary Journal and poetry 24. John is one of three featured poets in Measuring, Dedalus New Writers published by Dedalus Press in May 2012. His second full collection Chance was published in April 2013 by New Binary Press. He has also had poems included in anthologies such as The New Binary Press Anthology of Poetry, Stony Thursday, The Scaldy Detail 2013, Conversations with a Christmas Bulb,2013 ( a Kind of Hurricane Press), The Poetry of Sex, Penguin, 2014, Fatherhood Anthology 2014 (Emma Press UK). He is a founding member of the Hibernian Poetry Workshop and a graduate of the Faber Becoming a Poet 2010 course. He was shortlisted in the 2012 inaugural Desmond O’Grady Poetry Competition and is a 2014 Pushcart Nominee.