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Wednesday, June 20, 2007


by Erika Feigenbaum

I refuse that place, the bright shelves hurting
in the yellow lights, workers lifting, loading hourly,

stacking beyond reach, beyond imagining.

The valley now home to stores and tall street lights,
an endless stream of digital things, blinking
red signs for sales and rows of shoes.
So many blue plastic cartons, miles of
microwaves, board games, useless variety.

Every aisle a dull surprise, stagnant
consumer options that tie tight my hands
with dish rags 10 for $1
to a women 20,000 miles away.
She works someplace crowded and loud
for pennies, her hands quick,
guiding brightly checked cotton fabrics
beneath the humming presser foot
all day, before my morning starts,
she sits in this factory

like the one that used to be here
in the valley fifteen years ago,
when jobs paid $18 for a sweaty hour,
enough to feed yourself, your kids
back then, plus the relief of insurance.
Now it’s this store at minimum wage,
keeping its customers employed
for a bargain too sweet to calculate.

Erika Feigenbaum lives in Cleveland, Ohio where she teaches Women’s Studies and gardens with gusto. Feigenbaum's creative work has appeared in Off Our Backs, Sinister Wisdom, The Hiram Poetry Review, Hypatia, Epitome, and other publications.