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View Diary: Yesterday's Memorial for the Triangle Factory Fire Victims (69 comments)

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  •  I recomend an excellent book (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eddie C, Bouwerie Boy

    that really puts the Triangle Fire in historical perspective and honors the people that died there. Triangle: the Fire that Changed America.

    And I recommend this poem by Robert Pinsky. (You can hear him read it here.)


    The back, the yoke, the yardage. Lapped seams,
    The nearly invisible stitches along the collar
    Turned in a sweatshop by Koreans or Malaysians

    Gossiping over tea and noodles on their break
    Or talking money or politics while one fitted
    This armpiece with its overseam to the band

    Of cuff I button at my wrist. The presser, the cutter,
    The wringer, the mangle. The needle, the union,
    The treadle, the bobbin. The code. The infamous blaze

    At the Triangle Factory in nineteen-eleven.
    One hundred and forty-six died in the flames
    On the ninth floor, no hydrants, no fire escapes—

    The witness in a building across the street
    Who watched how a young man helped a girl to step
    Up to the windowsill, then held her out

    Away from the masonry wall and let her drop.
    And then another. As if he were helping them up
    To enter a streetcar, and not eternity.

    A third before he dropped her put her arms
    Around his neck and kissed him. Then he held
    Her into space, and dropped her. Almost at once

    He stepped up to the sill himself, his jacket flared
    And fluttered up from his shirt as he came down,
    Air filling up the legs of his gray trousers—

    Like Hart Crane's Bedlamite, "shrill shirt ballooning."
    Wonderful how the patern matches perfectly
    Across the placket and over the twin bar-tacked

    Corners of both pockets, like a strict rhyme
    Or a major chord. Prints, plaids, checks,
    Houndstooth, Tattersall, Madras. The clan tartans

    Invented by mill-owners inspired by the hoax of Ossian,
    To control their savage Scottish workers, tamed
    By a fabricated heraldry: MacGregor,

    Bailey, MacMartin. The kilt, devised for workers
    to wear among the dusty clattering looms.
    Weavers, carders, spinners. The loader,

    The docker, the navvy. The planter, the picker, the sorter
    Sweating at her machine in a litter of cotton
    As slaves in calico headrags sweated in fields:

    George Herbert, your descendant is a Black
    Lady in South Carolina, her name is Irma
    And she inspected my shirt. Its color and fit

    And feel and its clean smell have satisfied
    both her and me. We have culled its cost and quality
    Down to the buttons of simulated bone,

    The buttonholes, the sizing, the facing, the characters
    Printed in black on neckband and tail. The shape,
    The label, the labor, the color, the shade. The shirt.

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