This is a poem that was inspired by this old sweater which Harry gave to me 35 years ago on a vacation on Martha's Vineyard. I tend to keep things I love, and yesterday I gave it to my daughter and snapped this picture.
Early today, over coffee,
I told her I was going home
To clean closets and write a poem—
Such ambition and pride!
As if I could summon the Muse at will…
As I stand over the sink eating my
Sardines and onions
Marveling at my delicious weakness
For these easy fish—
I wonder if I will rise to the occasion
Of such poetic ambition or collapse beneath the weight of words
And closets that remain undone?
What is a poem anyway?
A thoughtful madness or a soulful necessity?
The heart spilling over on itself
Searching for words
Can be harder to face
Than the cave of the closet
I call it delicious.
The closet calls to be cleaned.
The under-seams of my broken life
Pile up like soiled clothes; lost loves, lost shoes…
The wrinkles in my face, my dress—
They startle me, demand words, demand attention.
Existential questions rise before the pile of clothes
As well as the empty page.
Who am I becoming? Who will I be today?
What will I wear?
This chance mood tonight; this reprieve
Demands a singular courage.
It calls me to order—
Entices me to make an effort.
I listen well, re-defining the fabric of my life—
By swift decisions, I declare:
I’m not tailored, stark or sleek.
Ruthlessly discarding outgrown clothes
I allow space for the new—
And caress the memory of the old.
Smelling the wooliness
Of the old red-ribboned sweater
I remember the trip to the islands,
And how we loved then.
Squeezing the torn yarns between my fingers
I hold the memory of that day
Till my heart relaxes--
Then fold it tenderly
And tuck it back in the drawer.
The torn sweater must be sown together, healed.
A poem will help…
Sorting and savoring what is good
I let the rest go—
Remembering and releasing…
The effort will be worth it—
So this is my pleasure tonight!
And sometimes I call it delicious.