Jane has a long blonde plait.
She wears it coiled up against the world.
When we shared a room I used to dream about having hair like
hers. Night after night of brushing it out and back.
Always, to get a story, I could tug on her plait which often trailed
over the side of her bed and say what about the time
when . . .
and she’d begin.
Jane knows lots of times when
there has always been a time when.
She is a builder. Wants to build.
Each morning early she heads off to the site in her jeans,
purple shirt and coarse green woollen vest.
She takes six sandwiches.
At smokos and lunch she plays cards with the men. They tell her
she will get fat if she carries on eating the way she does. They
cannot believe a small woman and six sandwiches.
They are afraid of her losing her figure.
They are all big men.
One says – when is she going to make them some pikelets?
She can’t make pikelets, she says. Fact.
He says – well can’t you get one of your girlfriends to make
None of us make that kind of food, she says.
Well how are you going to get husbands then?
When she went for the interview for her apprenticeship she sat
in a room with two men. Behind and between them on the wall
was a picture of a blonde woman spreadeagled naked on a rug.
The woman lay like that for a whole year from January to
December. Jane said to the two men that she didn’t want to have
to work with porn on the walls. They said and quite right too,
she shouldn’t have to but it was the men who were going to have
She might have smiled at them then and reached to check that
her plait was still clipped up, firm at back.
When Jane plaits her hair she works it straight up above her
head like an arrow.
In the mornings she heads off to work with six sandwiches,
sometimes eight and her long plait tied up behind.
© Jenny Bornholdt