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Nobody Knew She Was There (The Unthanks)

She walks in the cold dark hour before the morning The hour when wounded night begins to bleed Stands at the back of the patient queue The silent almost sweeping queue Seeing no one and not being seen Working shoes are wrapped in working apron Rolled in an oilcloth bag across her knees The swaying tremor soaks the morning Blue grey steely day is dawning Draining the last few dregs of sleep away Over the bridge and the writhing foul black water Down through empty corridors of stone Each of the blind glass walls she passes Shows her twin in sudden flashes Which is the mirror image, which is real? Crouching hooded gods of word and number Accept her bent-backed homage as their due The buckets steam like incense coils Around the endless floor she toils Cleaning the same white sweep each day anew Glistening sheen of new-washed floors is fading There where office clocks are marking time Night's black tide has ebbed away By cliffs of glass awash with day She hurries from her labours still unseen He who lies besides her does not see her Nor does the child who once lay at her breast The shroud of self-denial covers Eager girl and tender lover Only the faded servant now is left How could it be that no one saw her drowning? How did we come to be so unaware? At what point did she cease to be her? When did we cease to look and see her? How is it no one knew that she was there?