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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: December 16, 2013

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Submitted: December 16, 2013



Alice walks down
the steps to the dark
passage to the kitchen,
and stands at the door

looking in. Smells of
cooking, heat, bright
lights and sharp sounds.
Mrs Broadbeam in

white, and hair pinned
back, red flushed of face,
gazes at her. What are
you after, Miss Alice?

Mary, take the young
miss to the scullery
and fetch her a small
bowl of dried fruit,

she bellows over her
shoulder. The thin maid
comes over, red hands,
wet, eyes beaming.

She nods and takes
Alice's small hand,
and takes her across
the passage to the large

scullery, and lifts her
onto the bench. Sit there,
and please don't budge,
or I’m for it if you fall,

and goes off to the kitchen
to get a bowl of dried fruit.
Alice sits there, feeling
the hardness of the bench

under her bottom, no
longer painful where her
father smacked. She eyes
the large room with pots

and pans and plates and
dishes, knives and forks
and spoons of all sizes,
having been washed or

about to be washed. She
looks at the three large
sinks which come up to
her chin. The windows look

out onto the courtyard and
the small chapel with its
solitary bell. She can hear
voices from the kitchen,

banging of pots and pans,
sizzling and steam sounds.
She looks at the woods
beyond the chapel. She has

escaped the new nanny
with her beady eyes and
dark hair and moaning voice.
Her mother cried that morning

when she saw her after waking;
her eyes red and blotchy.
Her father shouting, storming
from the room, his eyes fire

and flamy. The thin maid enters
carrying a bowl of dried fruit.
Here you are, she says, be
careful not to choke, and hands

the little girl the small bowl.
Thank you, Mary, she says,
taking in the eyes and smile
and hair in a frizz. She eats

the dried fruit. The maid
watches, then carries on
washing the dishes, humming
a hymn, her hands becoming

redder as the water soaks.
A voice sounds in the passage
way, a voice calling Alice's
name, heavy tread, clapping

of hands. Alice freezes,
enlarges her eyes, holds
the bowl shaking. The maid
puts a finger to her lips and

walks out to the passageway.
Seen Miss Alice about here?
the nanny asks firmly. No,
can't say I have, the thin maid

says, hands dripping water,
eyes vacant, hair looking dull.
Well if you see her tell her to
go back to the schoolroom,

the nanny says, her voice brittle.
Will do, if I see her, the maid says,
indifferently, scratching her thigh.
The nanny goes off mumbling,

her footsteps echoing until gone.
What an arse, the maid says.
Arse? Alice says. Never you
mind about that, deary, best get

eating up and I'll take you another
way after. She smiles and touches
Alice’s cheek, leaving a damp
patch behind, a tiny tingle.

Alice eats the dried fruit,
ears cocked, eyes bright,
eyeing the thin maid as she
washes and stacks the dishes

high. She likes the hands that
rise and fall in slow motion as
if blessing, just like her mother's,
sans redness, when caressing.

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