Yellow Pants

part of  The Price of Our Clothes

 

My favorite pants, less than an ounce of pale mango cotton,
elastic banded, pocketless, perfect with any top,

could have been seamed by the millions in factories run by:
why are there only eighty, like yesterday, when today’s target is one hundred twenty;

or could have been meadow of mustard bloom yellow trousers
made with sums gleaned from years of labor each worker lost when nine floors fell.

But my favorite pants have no unreachable quota to meet, require no less-than-living-wage,
no rolling floors, pillars and beams crushing his head, his hand, her legs, her back.

Makers of these yellow pants sew
on machines bought with permanent injuries,

open windows and doors that let in the sun
on eight-hour days with breaks, know

any mistake is correctable by workers who own
their own factory, make yellow leggings

like pencils with wings that write New Life
over concrete, twisted metal, bone.

 

—for the survivors of Rana Plaza who own and work in the New Life garment factory,
Savar, Bangladesh, and made my yellow pants.