Friday, May 13, 2005

Garment Bags

My mother and father
live in garment bags
in my crawl space
not even together
having died years apart.
Looking back
it could have been the same day
I stood nose pressed
into the yarn of their clothes
inhaling all that they
had been.

My mother's black sweater -
totally retro now,
how could I let it go?
Covered with hair
and perfume
and 50 or so clear
round discs stitched to its bosom,
she wore it that christmas
before all the trouble,
she wore it like a gift
and all the lights from our family dinner
were reflected there
on my mother's bosom
as she laughed and sang
in her baritone way.

My father's jacket -
honorable badges
and name tags sewn in place.
It has no sentimental value really
but the thing looks proud
like it should be in a frame.
He was part of a chorus
for thirty-five years, a bass
by definition but he could sing
all of it. Until the trouble with mom.
After that he used the shower
for sobbing. Did he ever sing again?
I can't remember. I think
I should show my daughter

the black sweater, get her to smell
her grandmother. She'd probably
resist, especially if I pointed out
the blond hair. Her father
says I live in the past. I say
the past lives in my crawl space.


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