Day 892, November 21, 2022

Checking My Pockets 

A numbered set of index cards, a prepared stream of consciousness speech about sexuality and identity, an assignment from a marriage therapist. I was born outside. 20 feet and 46 feet. There is a poem about a bone removed being like a log slipping from the hearth, embers still glowing. Where did you sleep last night? We’ll be in it together instead of in secret. 

I used to rifle through all my jacket pockets looking for a forgotten pack of cigarettes. I can still smell the stale tobacco, the old paper and cellophane. Now I only find old index cards, tissue paper, rubber bands, and ball point pens. 

How much you can tell of a man from what you find in his jacket pockets? It is archeology and anthropology conducted in the aisles of Salvation Army and Goodwill Stores. The napkin from a hotel in Baltimore. A collection of hair ties.

A girlfriend’s father cataloged houses of the deceased. We went once and walked through the closets with him. For years afterwards, I wore the fake leather belt of a dead man, until the stitching came loose and the piles separated.

My jackets are missing buttons, zipper pulls, and have a repaired hem where a Korean tailor stitched a patch into a missing section of wool. The corduroy at the elbows is nearly worn through. I wore that jacket since the beginning of my teaching career. I wore that overcoat when I met my wife for the first time. The other sport coat was my stylish one and was what I wore to weddings. It has stripes. 

I used to chew gum, so many of my pockets feel like talcum powder, the way some packets of gum go soft when you forget about them and leave them in a coat pocket for six months, or a year. Do not eat these discovered packages of gum because the stick loses cohesion and becomes something unpleasant.

A jacket is only a thing, an object made of thread. It is unreasonable to imagine a life impregnated in the cloth, bodies hugged, babies carried, toasts given. In this pocket is the bio for Sut Jhally, who I must have introduced before a talk at the college, and on the back of that, a list of people to search for, and the title of a Jack London story. Just earlier today someone was talking about Jack London, The Call of the Wild, and I said, No, it was Ursula Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness. Someone else talked about the how the book was about a long trek through a desolate winter landscape, and I stayed silent and didn’t say, No, the book is about love.


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