Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Poem: Second-hand, hand-me-downs

Again and again, the kitchen in our church

becomes an obstacle of plastic bags

filled with clothes -- the first owners dead, moved, slimmed-down, fattened up, no longer pregnant.

Or toys. Or DVD's. Or China.

All in excellent shape.

They're in excellent shape because they were given with love.

Unlike the stuff one gives to the thrift shop

where the recipients are strangers.

My friends' kids

get glutted with books I've reviewed

books I've liked.

(Why share what was hated?)

When I visit them they greet me with eyes open

look behind my back for the latest

second-hand-but-first-to-them book.

I have one acquaintance, though...

very rich. A clothes horse.

She brings me clothes.

haute couture, high-end....rarely-worn.

She drops them at my gate

without asking.

without stopping to chat.

I don't know the woman.

But sometime in the past,

she determined to give me her hand-me-downs

determined to upgrade my style.

I wear jumper dresses and jeans,

not stylish for someone not yet an old lady:

this bothers her.

Should one wear clothes from such a giver?

Second-hands. . .hand-me-downs. . .

Ideally, such giving should be communal, should be born from love.

And yet I have worn them.

Because they were beautiful

and one like me could not afford them.

She smiles when I meet her at some hoopla,

glad I'm wearing her gift.

But those smiles. . .

they kill me little by little.

The day will come when I will be strong enough

Not to accept her cast-offs

lying at my gate.

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