Perhaps you’ve experienced the sudden, unsettling intimacy of putting on somebody else’s jacket and finding a wad of tissue in the pocket. Here’s a fine poem by Debra Nystrom, raised in South Dakota and now teaching in Virginia.
Dream of Mom’s red parka gone —
someone stole it right out of the closet
of the burned-down house — what
good could it do anybody else, broken
zipper that always got caught,
she’d jimmy it loose, just part
of putting it on — and she was so tiny,
the arms too short even for me,
too-tiny gloves in the pockets, thumbs
stubby, practically useless to anyone
but her — they deserve it if they shove in
a hand, find the tissue she used and then
left there who knows which cold day,
what she needed it for, or why.