The top of maroon cotton pajamas,
embroidered dragon, frog closings,
is all I have left that touched
his skin–lovely back, strong arms.
It was in the hamper, safe from
my helpful children,
as they blew through his closet
like a March wind, boxing Armani suits,
cashmere sweaters, Turnbull& /Asher shirts,
giving them all away just days
after he died.
When my father died in his bed,
fifty years ago, I arrived home,
raced upstairs to smell his sheets,
but the bed had been changed.
Wild for some lingering scent of him
I leapt into his closet, sat on his shoes,
hugged his beautiful suits.
On assignment, the fashion editor brought
those pajamas to Jim from Hong Kong.
He was moved by the gift
but didn’t wear pajamas, until
frail and cold with age
when his fingers couldn’t work the corded knots.
He’d sit on the edge of the bed, struggling.
I’d get up, go ‘round to help him,
saying again, ”Why do you wear these?”
Exasperated. And he’d put his arms around
my waist as I fumbled with the loops.