Tuesday, September 4, 2007

old folks' clothes

Before where I sat eating breakfast in the market an oldening man had set up his stand selling old folk’s clothes. They were boxer shorts and whispery white shirts for men and loose flowery blouses for women. He sat on a plastic stool on the platform he had made. The base was low plastic stools, overlaid with plywood, rimmed with rubberized racks to hold the goods in. He moved about the platform in bare feet, gingerly placing them in between the stacks of crinkling plastic packaged undershirt tank tops and underwear. As women pulled open folded shirts and held them up, scrutinizing, rubbing the material between thumb and forefinger, the seller was refolding ones that had already fallen in a heap. The whole time there were questions, and answers. “He’s 70, 80 kilos he oughtta wear a size 46,” said the man. He switched between Chinese and Taiwanese. Women lingered a long time there, holding clothes up to their bodies, tentatively imagining their husband or their son in this or that, probing with questions, never satisfied.

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