April 27, 2009

Marc Kelly Smith

MY FATHER’S COAT

I’m wearing my father’s coat.
He has died. I didn’t like him,
But I wear the coat.

I’m wearing the coat of my father,
Who is dead. I didn’t like him,
But I wear the coat just the same.

A younger man, stopping me on the street,
Has asked,
“Where did you get a coat like that?”

I answer that it was my father’s
Who is now gone, passed away.
The younger man shuts up.

It’s not that I’m trying now
To be proud of my father.
I didn’t like him.
He was a narrow man.

There was more of everything he should have done.
More of what he should have tried to understand.

The coat fit him well.
It fits me now.
I didn’t love him,
But I wear the coat.

Most of us show off to one another
Fashions of who we are.
Sometimes buttoned to the neck
Sometimes overpriced.
Sometimes surprising even ourselves
In garments we would have never dreamed of wearing.

I wear my father’s coat,
And it seems to me
That this is the way that most of us
Make each other’s acquaintance—
In coats we have taken
To be our own.

from Rattle #27, Summer 2007
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