When you are cold and put on a sweater,
notice how good it feels. And then, perhaps,
wish for everyone cold to have a sweater,
cashmere or mohair, hand-knit with reindeer
leaping across the chest, or little pearl buttons,
or leather patches on the elbows.
For some, perhaps a stick of gum in the pocket
or those coffee nips my mother loves
to roll around in her mouth like Demosthenes.
Or the phone number of a girl with a
ponytail and a walk that makes you think of deer
running up a green hill on a misty morning.
Or maybe not. Maybe just the sweater,
a crewneck with the letter L found in a free box
outside the health food store in Plymouth.
One sleeve’s unravelling, but it’s plenty big.
And if, when you’ve got them all zipped up,
down to the last kid in a hooded jersey,
you’ve worked up a sweat,
then shed your cardigan, aware
of how good it feels to cool off.
And wish the same for all
who are too warm, the pleasure
of removing their V-necks,
dropping their lump of wool by the bed
or folding it neatly over the back
of a wooden chair.
For the very young and very old who need help
to peel the knitted sleeves from their arms—
even a small dog in a smart tartan plaid—
you desire that they may be relieved of their pullovers.
And for each soul who’s stuck sweating in a turtleneck—
as he’s stumbling to catch a bus,
as she’s shoving wet clothes in the drier,
jiggling a fussy baby on one hip,
because he’s paralyzed and his attendant ran out
for cigarettes and beer—may you be willing
to draw their humid breath into your own
lungs, if only for a moment, and may this
close heat, which you do not want,
steam open the folds of your heart.