Clunk, clink, squish, squash,
Water pours and brushes wash.
Bottle after bottle passes
Held by the neck with metal catches.
Squirted disinfectant dances,
Cleaning out the old and rancid
Sickly grey liquid dropping
Onto floors, continual mopping.
Up the stairs above the noise
Work the girls not the boys
In amidst the rafters shaking
Office workers count the takings.
Count the yellow, Count the pink
By their weight, their value synched.
Down again and on we go,
Mighty arms work to and fro,
Lifting bottles, clean and sterile,
In the air in shaky peril.
Back and forth in unison
Ready to bring the newness in.
Gathered from farms across the county
In flows nature’s white bounty.
Sealed with silver or with gold
A beautiful sight for a child to behold.
The Milk of Life delivered daily,
In the bottles splashing gaily.
Nothing lost, not a dottle*,
Into crates full bottles topple.
Against time the line still races
To make tomorrow’s doorstep places
To make your breakfast porridge full
To deliver free to me in school.
© Sheila Ash, 9th October 2016
* A dottle is the remnant of tobacco left in a pipe after smoking. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/dottle
The continuous bottling of milk at Gävle Dairy. A reportage picture for the local newspaper Gefle Dagblad from August 9, 1953. Carl Larsson, Gävle, Ref.nr: XLM_CL 009753_4 https://www.flickr.com/photos/lansmuseetgavleborg