Cotton

I hurt someone today, you know what, I did.

I purchased a T-shirt, cotton, from Egypt.

 

They used up water from artesian wells,

Now dry, in the desert, away from the Nile.

 

The cotton was picked, nearly for free,

And so it was made, least it seems thus to me.

 

Three pounds fifty is what I forked out,

An amount you’ll agree isn’t a spree.

 

I can clothe my family in cotton and wool,

Because there’re folk being put to the hilt.

 

To pick, process, pack, weave and then knit,

Plastic free clothing that goes on a trip.

 

In containers of goods from their world to mine,

In wrappers of plastic, for fashion, sublime.

 

Now I don’t add to that awful, plasticky wash,

Going down drains in a glug and a swash.

 

Cotton is cheap, and provides me a route,

To avoid man made fibres, and be eco-good.

 

Because there’re folk considerably worse off,

Who’re bound for their lives to produce this cottony cloth.

 

But I hurt them, today, in my everyday quest;

I supported child labour, sweat shops, their boss.

 

Clothing myself and my family’s important,

I can’t afford to pay for anything else.

 

So I rely on workers, exploited: sweat shops,

People without unions, reps or case workers.

 

I’ve harnessed the slope down from me to the floor,

Of the economic miracle we’re born to adore.

 

I don’t like it, I’m trapped, but what can I do –

I’d love to avoid hurting folk like you, too.

 

I’m guilty, I know, but I can’t avoid hurt,

There’s nowhere to go, to save you my shirt.

 

◄ Sparks

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