I speculated last time on why Hewitt’s early life poems struck a chord with me.
I have little doubt about the following, for my own mother’s teenage years were spent in ‘Domestic Help’.
At times we had a run of servant girls
from far-off places; one came from Clonlig,
a widow’s daughter, noisy, freckled, big,
whose broom whisked through the room in dusty whirls;
our cinders she called chunners, better swept
beneath the rugs or mats. Even more surprising,
once, round the room door where my parents slept,
poked her curl-tossing head with ‘Who’s for rising?’
There was another voiced her discontent
we did not dine on chicken every day
as she expected. Briefly entertaining,
their worth in work scarcely evident,
it hardly met their pitiable pay;
my mother’s fiction was they came for training.