Photograph: Ellen Walton
by Rodney Waschka_II

    From the Stockport Ragged and Industrial School, unknown photographer
    (Metropolitan Borough of Stockport Local Studies Library)

    So small they have placed her on
    something, perhaps a box, covered
    with a rug or tarp. Atop she totters
    touching the back of a chair for
    balance. Bearing this bold stare, stead-
    fast in the glare muted by the black
    curtain partly drawn behind her. Some
    care has been taken - she wears a white
    work smock over her heavy dress. Why?

    ______________Will Scarlet, choose children's
    ______________charms and games for
    ______________Ellen to play.
    ______________Ellen may you never remember
    ______________a machine, but find friends, father,
    ______________and mother.
    ______________The anonymous maker-
    ______________let him stay so.

    Industrial School: caught and taught
    a factory job before puberty. Was her
    serious, firm face and hard
    stance slated for a "once a little
    vagrant - now a little worker"
    money-raising card?

    The surveilled subject cataloged
    without a crime
    or height and a sight
    only her name known.
    Ellen Walton, maybe 7,
    definitely alone.

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