By Michael Bazzett
Featured Art: The Sick Child I by Edvard Munch
Stray hair is pulled from the lapel of her favorite
wool coat years later in a secondhand shop, drawn
free in a quick, definitive gesture that could only
be called thoughtless. It settles on the worn carpet
while another woman’s hand holds the hanger and
drapes the coat across her chest—she eyes it
in the mirror with an air of cold appraisal, breath
rising and falling, her chest plumbed with valves
pulsing mindlessly, the forgotten hair underfoot
still holding the map and code of everything
another woman was: the face with the furrowed brow
that could fold and break into a lightning smile,
a woman with a knack for contentment and
quick anger that dispersed as clouds over hills.
An arm slips in and she feels the cool silk lining
on her bare skin. It is June. She does not need a coat
but her mind craves autumn and being wrapped
in well-wrought layers. She slips the other arm in
and hugs herself, snugging the coat to her waist,
wrapping it like a kimono, Yes, she thinks, seeing
an older version of herself walking through a park—
the image comes suddenly, like rain from nowhere.
Michael Bazzett is the author of four books of poetry: You Must Remember This, (Winner of the 2014 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry); Our Lands Are Not So Different (Horsethief Books, 2017); The Interrogation (Milkweed Editions, 2017); and The Temple (Bull City Press, 2020). His translation of the creation epic of the Maya, The Popol Vuh, (Milkweed) was named one of 2018’s best books of poetry by the New York Times. Find out more at http://www.michaelbazzett.com.
Piece originally published in NOR 13.