Assam Tea Pickers by Vicky Hampton

I am not a silent poet

There are no flames –

the man who swallows fire

chokes on a mist –

one arm pumps up down

up down, the other waves

left right, left right

one bellowing

one spraying –

it burns just the same.

He has no mask

and protective clothing

is not provided.

The bare midriff girl

sari on her bones

like rag on wire

will quietly ask

why can’t he feel his face

his hands, hungry?

In leaking homes

the new-born starve

Right up to the time to push

she’ll pick, he’ll spray


among pots

on a mud floor

she’ll birth and say,

oh, another grief.


I am a Writing for Wellbeing Facilitator and have been writing poetry seriously for about 4 years. I live in Gloucestershire, in the Forest of Dean where I run a peer-learning poetry group called Poets In Progress, or PIPs.  My work has won prizes in the…

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