Margaret Widdemer

The Factories

I have shut my little sister in from life and light
(For a rose, for a ribbon, for a wreath across my hair),
I have made her restless feet still until the night,
Locked from sweets of summer and from wild spring air;
I who ranged the meadow lands, free from sun to sun,
Free to sing and pull the buds and watch the far wings fly,
I have bound my sister till her playing-time is done --
Oh, my little sister, was it I? -- was it I?
I have robbed my sister of her day of maidenhood
(For a robe, for a feather, for a trinket's restless spark),
Shut from Love till dusk shall fall, how shall she know good,
How shall she pass scatheless through the sinlit dark?
I who could be innocent, I who could be gay,
I who could have love and mirth before the light went by,
I have put my sister in her mating-time away --
Sister, my young sister, -- was it I? -- was it I?
I have robbed my sister of the lips against her breast
(For a coin, for the weaving of my children's lace and lawn),
Feet that pace beside the loom, hands that cannot rest,
How can she know motherhood, whose strength is gone?
I who took no heed of her, starved and labor-worn,
I against whose placid heart my sleepy gold heads lie,
Round my path they cry to me, little souls unborn,
God of Life -- Creator! It was I! It was I!



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Margaret Widdemer