I retired my red coat, cherry red
in the stark landscape of winter, in the crystal
light of snow. Not even Goodwill wanted it.
A blue red that made people admire my white
white hair and white face. A red so rich
it drew a man to me. He said he loved me.
“Don’t ever forget that.” Unable
receive such a gift, I said I loved him too.
He was married. I admired his stories,
I devoured them. I admired his integrity,
I desired him. I wouldn’t let him visit,
but at gatherings I couldn’t stay away.
One night at a jazz bar he sat with me.
He covered my hands with one of his,
he ran the other down and up my leg.
“It was the red coat,” he said.
When I left town, he visited. We lay
together; I could not give myself.
He was married. Did he love me?
It was spring, too warm for the red coat.
After he divorced, he didn’t call.
And now that I have put the red coat
in the trash, I admit he’s gone for good.
No red coat. No dreams, no fantasies, no men
who love my red coat. Just me, my white hair
and white body. Just me, praying to be.
Jean Anaporte-Easton. A recipient of fellowships from Yaddo and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts, her poetry has appeared most recently in Poiesis, and 13th Moon. Essays on contemporary women poets have appeared in 13th Moon, Mid-American Review, and Contemporary Literary Criticism. She is the editor of Breathing From the Belly: Etheridge Knight on Poetry and Freedom, due out from the University of Michigan Press in 2008. She has taught poetry in prisons, and mental health facilities as well as universities and schools. Presently she is a professor of English at West Virginia State University