Red Plaid
by Tobi Cogswell

That old plaid shirt
The one you gave me one day
when I was sick. You gently draped it
around and buttoned me up like I was a child it
became my blanket, my bunny, my own.
My shoulders could reach up and
rub it quietly across my cheek. As warm,
and worn as a 50 year old marriage
it brought comfort and something more I can't explain.
I never washed that shirt. I never gave it back. I carefully
made sure to never sweat, never spill I could smell your
cologne for years after you were gone. So primal
the softness of hand to cheek with just the scent
lingering, I would tilt my face down into the blanket
of your palm inhaling deeply,
and with your shirt I burrow into the
crook of the elbow and remember. But it was right
that you were gone, as blooms turn toward the sun
they would ignite if actually they touched fire
so were we, and I could not find fault with
the fading red the aging black the paling green the pilling flannel.
Sometimes I tied it around my waist and sometimes even now
I sleep in it the sleeves are frayed, the buttons wobble as I
close myself in and cuddle with my memories of
how we used to be.
You gave it to me one day when I was sick
I didn't even know
my soul was needy but you knew.
I will never cut this shirt and use the rags. I won't wash the car
with it, I won't dust the table. I suppose I will wear it
from time to time when needed and eventually come to
place it in the bottom drawer where my children will find it after
I'm gone, and give it to Goodwill.

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