For our offering today, I’ve decided to stretch outside the safe, sanitized confines of “respectable” or “easy” poetry. Instead, I choose this remarkably incisive and prophetic piece by poet, Dan Anderson.
For God’s Elect in Shopping Malls
For those who would not choose to grow old before the Son of Man comes.
A woman with eyes painted on her boobs.
Another reading ‘dodgy’, another inscrutable.
Unfailingly matched to personal genre.
Thematised Personalities of the latter Capitalism.
World writ on the chests of post-Christmas shoppers.
On their post-Christmas T-Shirts. Taunt as these turgid surplus days.
Or sagging with remorse, various colours of remorse.
Buyers. Gifted – those who grieve their gifts. For whatever reason.
Returning shirts. Those soft packages, small bombs of disappointment
That mined the carpet round the Christmas tree.
Sale shirts. Unwanted gifts never sold. A surplus of disappointment.
This excess week, just enough to reconcile the wrong gifts of the old year.
What cancer lives in the soul of a people who exchange gifts?
Gifts that were never thought precious to begin with. But were.
Gifts that were cheap because the panting labour of creation was stolen.
Groaning. Tired hands and aching backs that sutured them cheap.
T-shirts that were hated by their makers, and a disappointment to those who received them.
Who will never be worn. Passed from hand to hand but never worn.
Raped from the earth. Cotton-farms, Great scratches across her face. Unswabbed.
Made poisonous by hatred and other chemicals. Buried.
Done again. And again. Until there is nothing left to take and no where left to hide.
When the Son of Man comes, and all his Holy Angels with him,
Will he need to do more than open our landfills, speak to the T-Shirts,
Give them words to tell their stories, the testimony of fibres. To pronounce?
What was whispered in workshops will be shouted from the rooftops.
And the judgement written across our chests, graphically, designedly.
Stern Son, I would have no hope of your judgement.
If you had not worn such a shirt. Clothed yourself in flesh.
Hung upon, cared and washed, worn out. Worn still.
Been surplus. Been a disappointment. Been laid with the fodder.
Been unspeakably precious. Been the joy of groaning history.
Been unrecognised. Been bloodied. Been hung out to dry.
Laundering Son, how I long to be clothed by you.