I never got to ask you if I could borrow your coat I’d seen it, hanging in the cedar closet on a rack full of things from decades ago, past lives, if you will, but that sounds silly it was this life, your life.
There are letterman jackets from when you broke swimming records and every color of raincoat you can imagine and your wife’s fancy lawyer clothes, fitted in true 90’s style with shoulder pads in the jackets and zippers up the sides of the skirts and then there’s the shiny gold shirt I remember her wearing on a date night and a pink feathered costume I wore when I was maybe seven for Halloween
and your coat.
It’s brown suede, too long on me but smooth and soft and satiny on the insides always cold to the touch It doesn’t smell like you I don’t remember what you smell like or what you’re supposed to smell like other than antiseptic but I would recognize you, I know I would. It doesn’t smell like you.
I think I remember you wearing it, though. One day when I was three when we were still living in an apartment, before we found our peeling paint washed out old house, you came home one morning or evening wearing that coat. I don’t remember what happened next, whether if you kissed your wife hello or patted your baby son’s head, or if you picked me up because I was so little or because you loved me but I remember you smiling. All teeth, thinned out lips, freckles and taught cheeks. I hope I don’t forget it.
I meant to ask you ages ago I meant to ask when you came back if I could wear your coat I like it Makes me feel mysterious and smart and better than everyone else But even once you came back you were still so far away
I couldn’t ask any favors from you.
And then you left for good. And I shrugged that coat on. Admired myself in the half bathroom mirrors and frowned Smiled and frowned I didn’t inherit your smile, I don’t think. Mine’s all fake and pulled too wide and not wide enough, bunching up big cheeks with that hanging fat lip the doctor didn’t stitch right I think you might have called it a battle scar
and it feels like a theft. Like I’ve burgled a dead man. But hey the coat is soft and god it reminds me of you.
It’s not your arms but I’m still wrapped up in you.
I dipped my hands in your pockets and I found a note you left yourself. Something from work, I bet, written in your fast handwriting with black ink from those cheap pens you liked, the ones with yellow gel between the ink and the clicker at the end. The writing is barely legible, something about SiriusXM radio and car parts. Some machinery lingo you’ll never teach me. I tucked it back in the suede lined pocket so I could keep you there.