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Published on Dec 11, 2010
From The United States of Poetry episode "A Day in the Life."
Copyright Washington Square Arts, 1995.
It's hard to hate anybody when we're all maybe trying on the shoes of the dead together, trying on their slacks and reading their books. So we are gentle to each other when we reach for the same glass or same blanket. Smile when we collide between the broken couch and a stain on the sheet. We pass, cool ghosts who feel the sleeves of jackets, the hems of dresses, and hold nylon stockings up to the light. An old man tries on a dead soldier's coat. It weighs him down, he bends as though he were carrying the man on his back. When he opens his narrow pocketbook a moth flies up. We find blouses for our mothers we never sent. A past we never knew. White bowls that fit inside each other. Someone else's babies. Painstakingly embroidered pillowcases. Empty jars. Proof of happier lives.
When I walk past the rack of dark wool suits I smell a human musk like an animal would. I get a sense of a man, of my long dead grandfather, and am filled with love for the suits, love for the man holding the double boiler, love for the teen aged girl with bare feet, sucking the ends of her hair and watching the clock, love for the lonesome one that the shoes will surely fit.