David Lewis Paget
The Dark, Satanic Mill - Poem by David Lewis Paget
I lived next door to a factory
That was old when Victoria died,
It used to be called a spinning mill
But the place is a wreck inside,
As lads we’d clamber on rainy nights
Through windows with shattered panes,
Play hide and seek through the old machines
Run up and back through the lanes.
The rain got in and would flood the floor,
The rust was a half inch thick,
The leather belts from the driving shaft
Hung down in streaks and strips,
A deathly silence echoed there
Where steam once puffed and groaned,
Had worked its mothers and children there
From their damp, and terraced homes.
We couldn’t imagine the noise in there
From the flying shuttles and looms,
The old machines were all rusted in
Like dinosaurs in their tombs,
We’d pull on belts from the driving shaft
And hear them creak and howl,
And turn the mule in its rusty frame
But the dust on the mule was foul.
Toby Garrett and Jill and Jack
Would follow me into the mill,
We’d chase each other around the back
And then we’d be kissing Jill,
She’d shriek and scream and she’d run away
And laugh when we had her trapped,
Then sweet surrender her gentle lips
To Toby Garret and Jack.
And then on a cold and frosty day
When the chill crept into our bones,
Jack said, ‘let’s have a fire today,
It’s just us, here on our own.
He loaded coal and he loaded coke
In through the furnace door,
He loaded kindle to start it off
And laughed as the furnace roared.
We crowded round as the heat poured out
And warmed ourselves to the core,
But Toby said, ‘Can you hear that?
A bubbling sound, for sure! ’
Then creaks and groans inside the mill
As it built up a head of steam,
The driving shaft had begun to move
And it started the odd machine.
We looked aghast, and we said to Jack,
‘You must put the fire out! ’
‘My Dad will kill me, ’ was his reply,
And he took off with a shout.
So Toby Garret and Jill and I
Ran out through the open door,
And ran between the screaming machines
But Jill then fell through the floor.
We heard her scream, it was like a dream
There was something pulling her down,
A pair of rollers, under the floor
Were crushing without a sound,
I saw the blood pour out of her mouth
And her eyes go into her head,
She was flattened out like a skein of yarn
Then she disappeared, she was dead.
We never spoke of that awful day
The furnace fire went out,
Nobody searched that Satanic mill
So Jill’s still there, no doubt.
They tell me I have a month to live
So I thought I’d best confess,
You’ll find her under the spinning floor
With blood on her party dress.
21 June 2013
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