Verse > Carl Sandburg > Smoke and Steel > II. People Who Must > 21. Clean Curtains
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Carl Sandburg (1878–1967).  Smoke and Steel. 1922.
  
II. People Who Must
21. Clean Curtains
  
NEW neighbors came to the corner house at Congress and Green streets.
  
The look of their clean white curtains was the same as the rim of a nun’s bonnet.
  
One way was an oyster pail factory, one way they made candy, one way paper boxes, strawboard cartons.
  
The warehouse trucks shook the dust of the ways loose and the wheels whirled dust—there was dust of hoof and wagon wheel and rubber tire—dust of police and fire wagons—dust of the winds that circled at midnights and noon listening to no prayers.
  
“O mother, I know the heart of you,” I sang passing the rim of a nun’s bonnet—O white curtains—and people clean as the prayers of Jesus here in the faded ramshackle at Congress and Green.        5
  
Dust and the thundering trucks won—the barrages of the street wheels and the lawless wind took their way—was it five weeks or six the little mother, the new neighbors, battled and then took away the white prayers in the windows?

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