In the beginning

In the beginning, your worth was the weight of your muscle
Working the fields to be paid by the sack
On your narrow strip, picking beans alongside old Charlie, and Ollie
with her wide eyes squinting, and the rattle taggle children of the lanes
Soil ingrained into fingernails, skin like unpolished leather
Singing old songs to the dark furrows
Working for pennies and shillings and the grace of the sky

Under a beating sun and then came the copper, gold and silver
running through your human hands like liquid as you
uncovered Money, sticky like honey, faithless as a bee to its pollen
and you swallowed it whole, regurgitating your belief in profit margins
and growth rates as the fields were concreted over
Charlie and Ollie buried under brick and aluminium
Now everything in this city is for hire,
from women’s bodies to men’s bruised and blackened flesh
steeped in alcohol, weeping with waiting for
Commodities amenities convenience identities
Activities facilities obscenities and penalties
Fascination sublimation imitation inventories

Oh, the price of fish and the cost of things
Unbattered by the markets,
and the scales are falling
into their eyes.

Nowadays the beans are flown in from Kenya or Colombia
Where the raggle taggle children of the poor
are still singing old songs
to the dark furrows
working for pennies or shillings and the grace of the sky.
under a burning sun.

Eileen Neil

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