Singing Alone - Kent Wright
The coat was new; fleece in a green color that was bound to stand out. It was sure the only one like it on anybody in school when we went back after Christmas vacation. Most of the other winter coats had been worn and worn down by older brothers or sisters. And they were practical plaids or hardy browns that didn’t show barn dust and cow shit much. My coat was a coat that said style, that said up-to-date, that almost said one of a kind. That wasn’t the message that I sought really. That green coat was simply irresistible to me from the first time I saw it in the department store because something about the combination of that particular green and the fleece just melted me. Maybe in other material like the rugged work coats worn by my Dad it would have just been another practical jacket that would have taken three years to wear down, and even then would still have been good for riding the tractor on long spring days of ploughing. A coat like that would hang right along side its identical, dark replacement for several more years good enough to be put on for pouring cement for the new side porch or painting in the morning before the sun warmed up the side of the house. My green coast lasted too. It lasted longer that I could still fit into it, and then it was hung upstairs in a closet with other clothes I had outgrown. Somehow my Mother was never able to give my outgrown clothes away. They were the younger brother or sister I didn’t have. Their stretched out elbows and scuffed cuffs were the days I played in the sandbox my Dad made and sat at an angle to both the back of the house and first row of the garden where the zinnias were planted. In that closet a thick red knit tie became friends with the coat and undoubtedly told it countless times about the grey stripped sports coat and scratchy wool pants that it accompanied to church on all those special Sundays when I recited long poems for the congregation. The green coat of the only child outlasted all the other clothes in that closet. It was discovered, its green still magically unchanged, when the house was emptied. I found it alone, safe from the dust zippered into its original plastic bag.