My Best Sweater

My Best Sweater
by Eric Sterling
i took the trash out
right on time to high five
the guy that rides on back.
his sister is dating my brother
so i get special treatment.
i don’t have to have my bags right
on the corner, but i do.
it’s little things like that.
i figure it’s rough for him at family
reunions when someone asks,
“so, Herman, what are you up to these days?”
so, I treat the guy like we’re friends.
sometimes i throw away good stuff, thinking
that if he digs through the trash at the end of the
day maybe he’ll find it. maybe he’ll wear my
sweater when it gets cold. and maybe I’ll see him wearing it.
that would make me feel strange inside, seeing him
wearing it.

0 thoughts on “My Best Sweater

  1. I don’t like this much. It seems like the poet’s giving him special treatment, not the other way around. And the treatment is condescending, to say the least. Any empathy is blown out the window by the last two lines. Maybe someone has another take on it.

  2. Empathy is here only being observed from the outside. It is a superficial, and I am assuming facetious, effort to benefit from a brush with disdain by calling it charity.
    Here the speaker has a brother dating the sister of the garbage man. He hopes to distance himself from this person by giving~ essentially; a discarded garment meant to be found and worn (the acceptance of this “gift” restoring the division whereby the trash flows out to someone owing reciprocity not to someone that could potentially become his brother-in-law).
    It, the poem, looks at the nature of the intent behind giving, the manner in which it is given, and the use of charity to divide. The next gift might well be in a wedding present but something tells me the first chance the narrator gets he is going to ask his new family member over for a “brewski” and ask if he’d be interested in helping him clean out his garage.

  3. Good analysis, Halifax. More discriminating than mine. I didn’t see the “guy” as the garbage man “that rides on back.” And of course that ties in with the poet’s taking the trash out “right on time” and setting the bags “right on the corner.” Your concept of the distancing of giving makes shrewd sense in an anti-empathic way, which could endow the poem’s ending with the irony of empathy creeping in making the poet “feel strange inside” were he to see the guy wearing the sweater.

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