The Mill

far away and long ago
there is a mill that sits
by a stream. in what seems like
a grievous oversight on the part
of the builders, there’s no
water wheel, just a man
and an ass
who take turns
to move the big stone wheel
turn by turn around
to ground the wheat down
into flour.

upstairs in the mill, a lonely lady sighs
and sits by the window and watches
as the miller grinds away
down below. she is pale and listless
and always so endlessly
tired, though she does nothing
to earn her rest. her only task
is to be quiet and watch
and report any irregularities
to her father, who owns
the mill. she reads books
until her eyes close of their own
accord, and every so often
she writes secretly
about what she can see
of the world outside
her window’s bounds.

she often wonders
what it would be like to work all day
in the hot sun and fresh
air, to feel the burn
and stretch of her muscles
and to be able to sit
on the bank of the stream
and dangle her feet
in the icy, green water, watching
the minnows gleam
silver beneath the rippling
currents. would she then
sleep deeply, without those
fitful, feverish dreams
that haunt her? would the rough fare
the miller eats taste better
with the sauce of honest hard labor
than the fine-ground grain
of the lavish pastries and confections
sent over by the staff
at her father’s mansion?

are her limbs so listless
from stifling her rage?
is her head so heavy and her eyes
clouded with tears
from all the times
she held her tongue
when being told
to do as she was told?

the sun has set, the miller rests
with a clear conscience
after having done his hard
day’s work. the lady, too, lays
down but sleep will not come
so easily to her. her mind is weary
of daydreams and full of questions
with no answers. the donkey thinks
not at all. who’s the happiest
under that roof?

Published by

R. Brookes McKenzie

what fresh hell is this

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