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The Butter Factory

Written by: Les Murray | Biography
 It was built of things that must not mix:
paint, cream, and water, fire and dusty oil.
You heard the water dreaming in its large kneed pipes, up from the weir.
And the cordwood our fathers cut for the furnace stood in walls like the sleeper-stacks of a continental railway.
The cream arrived in lorried tides; its procession crossed a platform of workers' stagecraft: Come here Friday-Legs! Or I'll feel your hernia-- Overalled in milk's colour, men moved the heart of milk, separated into thousands, along a roller track--Trucks? That one of mine, son, it pulls like a sixteen-year-old-- to the tester who broached the can lids, causing fat tears, who tasted, dipped and did his thin stoppered chemistry on our labour, as the empties chattered downstage and fumed.
Under the high roof, black-crusted and stainless steels were walled apart: black romped with leather belts but paddlewheels sailed the silvery vats where muscles of the one deep cream were exercised to a bullion to be blocked in paper.
And between waves of delivery the men trod on water, hosing the rainbows of a shift.
It was damp April even at Christmas round every margin of the factory.
Also it opened the mouth to see tackles on glibbed gravel, and the mossed char louvres of the ice-plant's timber tower streaming with heavy rain all day, above the droughty paddocks of the totem cows round whom our lives were dancing.



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