For seven years I lived in the steel town where my mom grew up.
Throughout my teen summers I would scour the yardsales for worn out 501’s
Picking them up for a nickel, maybe a dime.
I would carefully patch them and get a few more years more out of those jeans that had woken early, stayed late, seen the floor of the mill.
When I moved to Boston I tossed them out taking only a suitcase and a backpack
Stuffed with records, cassettes and my ‘dress’ clothes, picked up at the dollar a bag sale at the thrift shop.
I assumed there were hard working pants everywhere.
Twenty years later I still spend my time looking for 501’s.
There is a pair too big and too short that I have made do for the past year.
In late summer six months postpartum with my fifth baby I stumbled on a brand new pair of white 501’s at my new local thrift store.
White work jeans.
I can hear the derisive laughter.
All winter long I have waited to fit my changed body in to them, these ridiculous jeans.
I work, I’m a domestic engineer.
Some days call for wiping body fluids of humans, some days of the farm animals
Some days are spent baking bread and knitting in front of the wood stove waiting for winter to pass.
It’s a tough life, I say with wolfish laughter.
I dyed those white 501’s tangerine to work through, kneeling in the garden and hauling firewood
To scrub stains from when hoarding, I mean preserving, food and cooking countless meals and snacks
To stitch when the seams have had all they can take.
If you see me in my blue collar tangerine jeans, be sure to speak up because they are pretty loud.