by Linda King
Every other Wednesday after recess
we were bussed to a better part of town.
The boys took shop.
Made useful things—ashtrays, spoonracks.
They learned to handle tools the basics
of auto mechanics.
We girls filed into Miss Ravencourt’s room
for instructions on the smooth running of a home.
Beneath a wall of windows
rows of treadle sewing machines.
Once Brenda Spencer treadled a needle
right through her finger fainted
and had to be carried to the nurses’ station.
Our first sewing project
the dirndl skirt. Bright shiny cotton
with bowling alley motif
playing around the bottom.
Only the really poor girls ever wore them.
We learned how to lay a table. The knives and forks
were called cutlery and should be
placed from the outside in.
We practiced the art
of radish roses, broccoli florets,
celery stuffed with cheese. Baked soufflés.
Brought it all to the table—oven mitted and apronned
in our own hopsack embroidered creations.
There were self-improvement classes where we learned
to apply polish push back those unsightly cuticles.
Back on the bus we waved our pretty hands
at Miss Ravencourt hoping the polish would last
until next time.
Linda King is a Vancouver, British Columbia poet/workshop
facilitator whose work has appeared in numerous magazines in
Canada and internationally—Existere, The Toronto Quarterly,
CV2, Other Voices, Room, Gargoyle, Albatross, Third Coast,
Lumina, Orbis, Seventh Quarry....Her work has previously
appeared in the Apple Valley Review.
On “Home Ec”:
This poem is part of a series of poems written about growing up
in small town Eastern Ontario and attending those small town
schools where classes were geared to ensure that young women
became proficient in domesticity. And, although I’ve long since
given up making art out of vegetables....I can still bake a pretty
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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Volume 5, Number 1
Copyright © 2010
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to material
published in the Apple
Valley Review are retained
by the individual authors