The Suit

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 4:30pm

April is National Poetry Month. It was introduced in 1996 and is organized by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States.


The suit, hand-me-downed

from her beloved teen-aged

cousin Kathleen, hung in

a back closet, ready for her

to size up to it, ready for

the appropriate occasion.


Ready or not, the occasion came.


By long distance telephone,

her mother directed her to suit up

for her first visit with her father,

recovering from life-saving

experimental surgery

at Johns Hopkins Hospital.


She arrived in Baltimore

on Maundy Thursday,

wearing the pleated wool skirt

safety-pinned at the waist

to take it in three sizes,

hem drooping to ankles,

jacket shoulders nearly

where elbows should have been,

sleeves hiding fidgeting fingers.


The gray of the suit

matched her pallor

as her eyes met her mother's

on the steps of the formidable hospital

where her futureless father,

had faded, defeated not

by new technology,

but rather, by kindly nurses

moving their tall patient

to a longer bed, and thereby,

moving a clot to his lungs.


After drowning in tears

during the long turnpike ride home,

she received from her mother

a gray, cardboard gift box

containing colored candy eggs,

resting in peace on green cellophane

straw in a doll-sized Easter bonnet.


That sweet present

stayed in its plastic wrap

on a shelf in her closet

until she packed up her room

and left her mother's house

a bride.