A pile of shirts upon the floor:
These fabrics, touched by many hands,
That we acquire in carelessness,
Unheeding of their stories —
From train tracks spread across the land,
Came cotton, clips, and dyes:
Now woven cloth, and garments formed
In every kind of size.
In early April morning mist,
At mills like Bibb, and Swift’s
The queues were formed to punch the clock
By tribes that we called shifts.
And lo, the days and decades in
The dim behind streaked glass,
As trains were filled with products of
The overworking class
Spun out in webs to everywhere.
Labor, measured in yields,
Whose clothes touched newborn babies, and
Reached distant battlefields.
But over time, replacements found
For capital deployment:
The “minimum wage”, in truth, is always
So now, a row of skeletons,
These empty mills in bands,
Whose teeming cousins operate
In other climes and lands,
Whence raw materials are shipped,
And finished products come:
And cheerless lines are formed from those
Who make the factories hum.
We buy, of course, to meet the needs
With which our lives are rife:
Just barely cognizant that ‘this -‘
Was once somebody’s life,
In forests of iniquity,
To form and to outpour —
To then end up in thoughtless piles,
On the floor