Mary’s Sweater

Extending my imagination to create a world for Jess is a delight, an honor. In Jess Book 1 I celebrate her playful way with words as texture, as scenery dotted with soothing and sometimes jarring rhythms. This is a selection, a writing practice from my journal that I offer to inspire writing for our Jess.

“Mary’s Sweater”

I think of myself as tall like Mary.

Both of us once slim.

I was never as smart or as tender.

She was an artist, painted animals, bones beneath soil, water landscapes and apple blossoms.

Paintings that unearthed stories, told new ones.

Mary was a passionate teacher, a dreamer.

She painted with her heart, understood things, felt them

When I put on her soft woolen sweater, zip it up, snap it closed

I become more tender.

Mary would have required pockets

Big ample pockets for hands and collections

I wore it home from Julie’s who thought it suited me.

It had been in her closet for sometime, since Mary.

Dusty Rose, a color I rarely wear, never.

I wrap myself in it to go to dinner

Below the table I bother with a crusty blemish near the zipper

In the flickering candlelight, it smells of pea soup with hock.

I imagine Mary in deep conversation, sharing pea soup

On the bank of the Thames, a museum reflected in wobbly water.

The museum I missed the time I was in Paris.

Pinching the stain between my fingers, I want it to be chocolate.

Tasting would tell but I mustn’t. Mary would lick her finger.

They’d talk about the ducks floating in the river, pale blue bills

Glowing like paper lanterns, their invisible paddling.

The wind came up the first week I wore it.

I snapped myself into it each morning, wool soft from washing

Poked my hands into the pockets, zipped a twenty into one for shopping

Mary’s would have held her passport, a tissue, and a square-sided coin

Clinking against a periwinkle shell rolled like a croissant, in lavender.

The pocket smells like crumbled rosemary, like Mary’s garden.

Wearing it, I scuff my feet, bend my knees at new angles.

Dip my shoulders one at a time, my hips and legs loose

as if held together by hooks and eyes, the top half of a snap missing

I falter and miss a corner as I round it and bump my arm,

I laugh like Mary, mouth open, head back, lips peeled, teeth dry

I close my eyes as I listen and consider. Mary did that.  

“How, Grandma, can we deal with our homeless crisis?”

I answer, seeking my Mary voice, her lips form my words,

snapping and unsnapping the pink dogwood blossom,

dusky carnation sweater made of Mary, I open my mouth.

My granddaughter saw tents along the road, more each day, too many

I answer like Mary in her sweater, hands tracing the coin’s edges

“Today more than ever, buddy-girl we need you,

your imagination and your paying attention to the world.

It’s your heart wisdom that will turn things around,

creativity. You must keep seeing and wondering.”

She puts both hands in my pockets and smiles showing her teeth,

Tosses her head back. I like this soft sweater, the pockets.

I zip it around her, losing her hands inside the sleeves.

It’s Mary’s, who put a baby just this color in a painting

and a swimming green frog.

Come I’ll show it to you.

girl in woods

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