Going Away Coat

After Seamus Heaney’s “The Underground”
 
I waited until you hunted,
Head down in the depths of that first shared wardrobe, for your tie. 
Muffled by the closet, you unraveled evening plans like silk string
The bow of your back, curved as an archer, as you messed and rummaged 
Babbling your words into my new dresses, which hung and fluttered
Like split cocoons, pitiable in that shared armoire. 
 
And all the while, I worried,
Tilting at my reflection, squinting for some hint of Hepburn
Helen or Hera; worrying the looking glass, dim as the gloaming
With a rising constellation of flaws.  I gazed bewildered
As the moon when its beholder’s back is turned,
And retreated into my going away coat.
 
I searched for what you had seen
It couldn’t have been this freckled skin, these ankles, thick-set
And yet, because of you I am dressed white and purposeful, buttoned
Up to my neck in going away.  A coat with a prefix
And a deep stain on the sleeve, sulking remnant 
Of last night’s supper and my fallen nature.  
 
Your voice thrumming in my ears
While a legion of fears descended, and marked out my imperfections
Where can this beloved go to hide?  Nowhere now, for you are bound
To me by a band around your finger, to my foibles, flaws and infirmity
And could you still love the beauty I cannot see?
Will you, with the words, describe it to me?
 
Ambushed in this fierce solitude
You place affection, freely, just below the imperfect angle of my jaw
Lost as an Echo, avoiding the eyes that I would rather drown in, I ask
“Do you mind, at all?”, showing you the pulsing stain on my sleeve
You take it, with the halcyon hand, between finger and thumb, 
“Do not be afraid.  Come
Away with me”.

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