The Great American Jacket
There's nothing like this short light coat for making you feel
more useful, arms almost free to rake millions
of your cottonwood's gold leaves.
But you don't rake.
Instead you sit near the Great American Elm,
feel how you're both
a little outdated.
Once you had a parka
to drag you through
ice caves, zipper a cross
between play and business
in your snow forts,
metal so thick enemy hits
couldn't sting inside.
And then your Catholic school's dark
green wool, which forested you, blazer
pretending you knew Latin declensions
and loved exclusion, raising you
through lilies and a thousand masses.
It still somehow leprechaned you,
You'd belt those
spring jackets your mother bought,
all pale yellow and repellent
through city parks to meet
some relentless jacketless boys
in light rain.
one peacoat marched you for peace,
one slung you to graduate school
imagining poetry workshop
with the sensitive in work shirts
with their sleeves rolled up, waiting.
There was only one black suit jacket
thrown over some desk, like a dead lynx.
Now harmless in canvas, denim, or down,
your jackets lean more to the mountains.
You never rode a horse but you could,
part yellow, or part red like the tree line
you look up to from your desert floor.
You could call Bonnie or Jess to bring hotdogs
from Maverick, meet you at Huntington Ridge,
listen with you to two forks of the river, stay for dusk.
The sky would lead to that first bitter tinge. To fire, where you could
open in front of the flames in the plain spruce dark, unsnap, unzip.
Nancy Takacs teaches at a small college in Utah, and has a few books: Pale Blue Wings, Limberlost Press ('01) and Preserves, City Art Press ('04), a book forthcoming from Limberlost Press in 2006. Poems will be out in Spoon River Review, Calyx, the Healing Muse, and Red Rock Review.