The Adirondack Review
The Great American Jacket

There's nothing like this short light coat for making you feel

more useful, arms almost free to rake millions

of your cottonwood's gold leaves.

But you don't rake.

Instead you sit near the Great American Elm,

feel how you're both

a little outdated.

Once you had a parka

to drag you through

ice caves, zipper a cross

between play and business

in your snow forts,

metal so thick enemy hits

couldn't sting inside.

And then your Catholic school's dark

green wool, which forested you, blazer

pretending you knew Latin declensions

and loved exclusion, raising you

through lilies and a thousand masses.

It still somehow leprechaned you,

fielded you.

You'd belt those

spring jackets your mother bought,

all pale yellow and repellent

through city parks to meet

some relentless jacketless boys

in light rain.


one peacoat marched you for peace,

one slung you to graduate school

imagining poetry workshop

with the sensitive in work shirts

with their sleeves rolled up, waiting.

There was only one black suit jacket

thrown over some desk, like a dead lynx.

Now harmless in canvas, denim, or down,

your jackets lean more to the mountains.

You never rode a horse but you could,

part yellow, or part red like the tree line

you look up to from your desert floor.

You could call Bonnie or Jess to bring hotdogs

from Maverick, meet you at Huntington Ridge,

listen with you to two forks of the river, stay for dusk.

The sky would lead to that first bitter tinge. To fire, where you could

open in front of the flames in the plain spruce dark, unsnap, unzip.

Nancy Takacs teaches at a small college in Utah, and has a few books: Pale Blue Wings, Limberlost Press ('01) and Preserves, City Art Press ('04),   a book forthcoming from Limberlost Press in 2006. Poems will be out in Spoon River Review, Calyx, the Healing Muse, and Red Rock Review.