Volume 33, Number 2

My two wool sweaters

keep me warm.

I bought one from a catalog.
It's camel with a zip turtle neck lined
with fleece and has leather elbow patches.
It cost a lot and was made in China.

The other is a thick gray cable knit
zippered jacket with a hood
and pockets. It came from
a flea market. Its label says
it was made in Ecuador.
It cost twenty dollars.

People always tell me how nice
these sweaters are when I wear them,
and that makes me feel kind
of warm, too.

Then they ask me where
I got them, and that makes
me think.

I wonder where the wool
came from for the one made
in China and how many people
lost jobs in Pennsylvania textile mills.
That doesn't make me worry
too much because the voice
on the other end of the phone
works at a catalog call center
in Minnesota.

But then I think of alpacas
in the Andes, and villagers carding
wool, spindling yarn, knitting the skeins
into sweaters in earthen huts,
sitting around a central fire pit
on rugs laid on dirt floors,
selling five for ten dollars American
to the yanqui driving the muddy
Nissan pickup, and then
I feel a chill mountain
draft on my neck.

—Eric Chiles