one forty nine

Posted: September 24, 2015 in elizabeth yeoman
Tags: , , , ,


Compare at $3.00.
I wonder what it was.
What can you get for $1.49 these days?
A synthetic scarf or gloves from someplace like Walmart,
that before that came from someplace in Guandong
where vast aisles in even vaster factories
are filled with rows of women in pink smocks putting tags on similar items.
All that work and all that infrastructure and all that fuel to bring it here.

The same day I saw this piece of litter
I was reading about 18th century crimes that could get you transported
to Newfoundland or Australia.
So many thefts of small items of clothing: scarves, gloves, shawls.
It makes you realise
how terribly underclothed the poor were in those days,
how cold they must have been.

The same day I saw this piece of litter
I bought some shrimp at the fish shop on Duckworth Street.
“Is it from here?” I asked.
“It is, but it’s processed and packaged in China” he said.
“Packaged in China and sent all the way back to us?”
“Yes, it’s cheaper that way.”

Elizabeth Yeoman  is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her scholarly work is about language, culture, history and memory. She has also published poetry and travel writing in literary magazines and presented radio documentaries on CBC Radio.


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  1. What a wonderful piece of prose that draws on the vast perimeters of littering our planet connecting to the huge issues of economics and poverty.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cheryl says:

    Wonderful poem, Elizabeth. You make it seem effortless, and I’m sure it was anything but! Thought-provoking mind journey from litter – to pink smocks in Guandong – to 18th century crimes – to a fish shop on Duckworth Street. Loved it.


  3. This is an intriguing poem, Elizabeth. It takes the reader on a journey with unexpected and thought-provoking stops and connections.


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