Whether I’m wearing it or not,
my old green sweater regards me
with a sneer of ancestral disdain.
This is why I prefer old clothes:
their attitude. You worry
that holes in my winter garments
chill parts of me no one,
including me, has ever seen.
Spongy old shoes whimper
as I slop along Grove Street.
My trousers sag and bag and sigh.
The rich old women shopping
for cheap trinkets for grandkids
avoid my nearsighted gaze,
shunning my apparent need.
You urge me to clear my closet
of masses of flannel rags
and buy a shiny new outfit
and present myself freshly minted.
But the guck of thaw underfoot
would molt the shine from new shoes,
and the splat of run-over puddles
would render cheerful trousers moot.
Let’s wait until spring to discuss
my wardrobe and its discontents.
My green sweater almost loves me,
and my checked gray flannel shirt
clings to me with desperation.
The holes in my blue jeans earn me
a dollop of teenage envy,
and my fuzzy old watch cap
perks on my head like a pet.
Even you admit that my black parka
doesn’t look all that rusty.
And when the snow gets deep enough,
my tall rubber boots, sole-worn,
cradle my feet with gentle care.
No, real poverty lurks elsewhere,
cowering in the flux of weather.
Lacking adequate fuel and food,
certain local households suffer
cries of badly crumpled infants,
and can’t solve the difficult math
of vast international wealth.
My old green sweater understands.
And so do my thick old socks, despite
the holes in their heels through which
I feel so much cruelty plotting.