29 April 2014

Working in Offices

Echos of the Rana Plaza Disaster




Do our desks have sun for potted flowers?
Let’s omit blues this time and put cheerful
fragrant colors amid the greens and browns.

Do offices catch fire like factories
do? asks Rajina, teen in Bangladesh,
a flower left standing in the rubble.

We think: The New York City Twin Towers
and Oklahoma City Federal
Building, supremacists and terrorists.

But in Bangladesh the threat is working
conditions, not aimed or random terror,
the threat is starvation, desperation.

Post Nine-Eleven, we ran schematics
tested strength, built homeland security,
designed a memorial space to see.

Rajina’s factory was improved, but
she disappeared—cut and displaced to live—
she fell into unregulated space.

Potted plants, we insist. Cut flowers die
too soon. And we think: Weekly flowers cost
more than Rajina earns in two for food.

Rajina dreams of writing and working
in an office someday.  We dream of her
wondering where she has gone, how she grows.




Written for Day 29 in the April challenge, using the prompt at NaPoWriMo for Day 28.  My inspiration is an article by Jason Motlagh in The Washington Post, "A year after Rana Plaza: What hasn’t changed since the Bangladesh factory collapse" (4/18/2014).  The photo, documented above, accompanies an article in The Guardian by "Will transparency in the fashion industry ever become a reality?"  (7/15/2013)  I intend no violation of copyright.  If there is a concern, please email me 



Copyright © 2014  S.L.Chast 


18 comments:

Claudia said...

i think even if we have not so good working conditions over here we cannot even imagine how it is in some other countries... lots of people work for a minimal wage under terrible or /and dangerous working conditions... it's good to raise awareness..

R.K. Garon said...

Wonderful piece, we must all be on the same page this week. very interesting....
ZQ

Vandana Sharma said...

Such a sad situation. The terrorism has spread its wings all over the world. here in India too we keep on hearing the news on bomb blasts every now and then.

Brian Miller said...

we dont think about these things as consumers...as we are out purchasing,
the tag telling us where it was made, without thought to the conditions
and we perpetuate the system....

Sumana Roy said...

life is in a mess in many countries including my own with a staggering population...but everywhere politicians shine
.....

Nataša Dolenc said...

with all the things we take for granted in the developed countries it's hard to imagine how some people live from day to day, and it's not just a few, but millions.

Grace said...

I am very touched by this story & imagery of potted flowers Susan ~ The living & working conditions in other countries are unimaginably difficult ~

Cressida de Nova said...

Thank you for this poem. Once you see these conditions it changes you forever and the way you live ( well hopefully it does) . No matter how small ,we must all do our bit in the fight for human rights for everyone. !

Sherry Blue Sky said...

"But in Bangladesh, the threat is working conditions....starvation, desperation......" You have expressed this so well. I especially love the image of Rajina, "wondering...how she grows..." A powerful poem.

Björn said...

Interestingly enough.. offices are also rapidly dissapearing.. we substitute with smartphones and tablets.. working everywhere... but always dressed in inexpensive clothes sewn at minimum wages ...

TALON said...

We are so isolated in our selfish lives. Never thinking beyond the shiny objects. Thought provoking and wonderful write, Susan.

Laura said...

Such a thoughtful poem… we get lost in are wants and forget the true needs of others.

Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

Oh this just makes me tear up--Brian is right--somehow we perpetuate the system

Gillena Cox said...

this is a heart felt post, thanks for sharing

i would luv if you shared this at my Sunday meme link up
http://myblog-lunchbreak.blogspot.com/2014/05/1437.html
much love...

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

And because those conditions are so difficult and so far away, it's easy for us to ignore them. Thank you for bringing them to our attention.

Steve King said...

A powerful statement. The observations above are correct: We are all connected, we are not islands.

dsnake1 said...

corporations go where the labor is the cheapest. that's one of the hard truths.
i loved this poem. it's hard-hitting without being too rhetoric. and who can forget the irony in these lines : "Weekly flowers cost
more than Rajina earns in two for food."
?

Anjum Wasim Dar said...

Thoughtful lines- well written reflecting truth. We got the chance to visit USA in 2000-world keeps changing and we hope for further change and wait for it to happen