new zealand electronic poetry centre

Fiona Farrell

online works


Charlotte O’Neil’s Song

You rang your bell and I answered.
I polished your parquet floor.
I scraped out your grate
and I washed your plate
and I scrubbed till my hands were raw.

You lay on a silken pillow.
I lay on an attic cot.
That’s the way it should be, you said.
That’s the poor girl’s lot.
You dined at eight
and slept till late.
I emptied your chamber pot.
The rich man earns his castle, you said.
The poor deserve the gate.

But I’ll never say ‘sir’
or ‘thank you ma’am’
and I’ll never curtsey more.
You can bake your bread
and make your bed
and answer your own front door.

I’ve cleaned your plate
and I’ve cleaned your house
and I’ve cleaned the clothes you wore.
But now you’re on your own, my dear.
I won’t be there any more.
And I’ll eat when I please
and I’ll sleep where I please

and you can open your own front door.


From Cutting Out (AUP, 1987)

Fiona Farrell

Last updated 23 July, 2007