She is woken by the ten o'clock church bell,
having fallen asleep sitting upright in a wicker chair,
her basket kept securely on her lap,
a collection of candle wax and pig's blood at her feet.
She leaves the house of the master's,
finished cleaning - dust, mop, tea.
Cupfuls. She prefers her strong wine,
made with a shake and a swig
from her tout lips. They've hardly been kissed.
Her time now belongs to the river and a washboard;
hands and white sheets lathered with milky soap.
Busy bees of washers pass a bottle along in silence.
Trickling water guides her away from her work,
into an open field nearby. Lifting her woven, navy skirt,
she squats, the tall grass tickling her inner thighs.
Relieved now, she takes a minute to squint, aged hands
between the oak leaves. Green radiates into her skin.
The sun illuminates the spider veins in each leaf.
She will paint deep into the night.