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Coattails
by
Arlene Gay Levine


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Handsome, tall, wrapped in a worn but still snappy cashmere coat,
the man quicksteps around the shoe department testing
a pair of oxfords. Dancing tentatively in his wake
is an elegant miniature, around five,
her dark hair, high forehead and lanky frame,
a mirror of him.

Rosebud lips, aquiline nose and emerald eyes belong
to a missing piece of the triad: some pretty woman, possibly home
cutting crusts from sandwiches they will devour
when the duo returns, ravenous from their morning at the mall,
or perhaps their lady was lost giving birth
or vanished with whatever wind
blows families apart; I don’t know.

I do know I watch them, momentarily ignoring
my recently retired husband, as he grumpily tries on
casual footwear to match his new lifestyle. I observe how
this little gem of a girl silently keeps pace with the man,
her small hand outstretched as if to catch his coattail,
but never quite grabbing hold; he doesn’t seem to notice.

The pair whisks past our seats, her with arm extended, him
waltzing just out of reach. I return my attention to
my beloved, busy now untying shoes he will not buy
because the current styles do not suit him. I remember
all those years, him leaving for work, coattails flapping
in the wind, and I reaching out to wave goodbye.

Now, my hand touches his, we smile at each other
and I want to call out to this other man: “Time
moves too fast!” but when I turn, all I catch
is a glimpse of his coattail
as he lopes out of the store,
his tiny shadow
floating behind. 

 

From Movie Life (Finishing Line Press, 2011)
Used here with author’s permission.

 

Purchase a framed print of this poem.

Arlene Gay Levine is the author of 39 Ways to Open Your Heart: An Illuminated Meditation (Conari Press) and Movie Life (Finishing Line Press). Her poetry and prose has appeared in many venues, including The New York Times, an off-Broadway show, and on radio. Arlene lives with her husband in New York City, where she tends a garden of words, roses and herbs. Learn more about her at http://www.arlenegaylevine.com/.

 

 


Post New Comment:
Lori Levy:
Paints a beautiful picture.
Posted 06/16/2016 11:30 PM
paradea:
Beautiful!
Posted 06/16/2016 11:01 PM
barbsteff:
Love the first line - "worn but still snappy cashmere coat" suggested to me a grandfather, but the poem makes it sound like he's the father. Tender observances.
Posted 06/16/2016 03:15 PM
transitions:
Lovely ~
Posted 06/16/2016 12:57 PM
cork:
I love the sounds.
Posted 06/16/2016 08:35 AM
blueskies:
...Dancing tentatively in his wake is an elegant miniature---So nailed, IT Arlene. The daughter/father love language. Thanks!
Posted 06/16/2016 07:57 AM
Janet Leahy:
Love the music that runs through the poem, visual and poignant. Thanks Arlene.
Posted 06/16/2016 07:53 AM
ElizabethP:
What a great slice of life poem. Thanks!
Posted 06/16/2016 07:49 AM
JanetruthMartin:
enjoyed!
Posted 06/16/2016 07:34 AM
rhonasheridan:
Terrific! A wonderful poetic ramble and I loved it.
Posted 06/16/2016 06:10 AM


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