Found Poem from a Book in a Box of Books I Sold to A Novel Idea before Moving to Kentucky Again

for Cinnamon Dokken

Setting off from the islands in early summer, the boats sailed south along
the coastline after the migrating fish, ending up in East Anglia at the end
of the year. The women traveled south in special trains to work at gutting
and packing the herring catch. These women worked in crews of three,
continuing late into the night of the catch was large. Standing in front of
a wooden trough, two of them gutted while the third packed the fish
between layers of salt. Their fingers bound in bandages to protect them-
selves against the razor-sharp knives and the rough salt, their clothes
covered in fish guts and scales, the women worked at phenomenal speed.
To earn a living wage required a skilled crew to pack thirty barrels of fish a
day, one fish every five seconds through the course of a ten-hour day. In
the early years of the century, these women were paid eleven or twelve
shillings a week, with their lodgings and travel thrown in. Despite the
harshness of their working conditions, many looked back on these days
with affection and nostalgia for the comradeship of their fellows.

:: Tim Skeen, Kentucky Swami

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