1764 c/o Wayne Holloway-Smith

The Song of the Jennys

A wanton wench they called her first, or something close, O Calico!
Someone’s mother, daughter, lover and punched or knocked she was
by the hard one word of stiffly men a No! A woman then O Calico she was

so floored and sideways spun in Norwich or in Nottingham
as legend goes they called her Jen a spinning maid, a shameless engine in her soul
knocked down O Calico and sideways wound she was, in one hard word

a stiffly No! A daughter and more out than in and someone’s wife or someone’s mum
her plain white dress not patterned on and searing hard as if it sung so mad
she was and out the door, along the lane and on the axles of her pins

she spun away from utterance, a sternly word a stiffly No! Came warring Jen
past ale and meat house and O Calico in ale and meat house fustian-old
and clunking men stuck fork and pint pot stiffly down and growing red. O Calico

the shadow of a knee of Jen and haunted grans and little girls who dropped
their hands and marbles down themselves were taken by the weft she twined
and too begun to spin and soon were all known as The Jens and up to seven

at one time, this happened time and time again, and angry farmers, men in wigs
they’d not be still enough to wed or live as loyal wives to them, and instead
all the Jens at once in constant pirouette through field, and village and O Calico,

up through glens were chased for fear by men in fronds of laws they’d quickly passed
of No! and most were caught and put to work in cotton mills O Calico or made to decorate
each piece of cloth the Jen before her had produced with patterns of some famous birds.