When she’d outgrown a Medium, my daughter
gave me a red ski sweater, strewn with snow
in knitted flakes. It’s thick—wool—but the
extra warmth (despite the chilly rows
of crystals on the yoke of knitted firs)
had nothing to do with heft or wool or scarlet
and everything to do with being hers:
Spirits, bidden by her outgrown clothes,
materialize in what no longer fits her—
revenants of the girl that she outgrows.
And this red cardigan was even more.
Some essence seemed to pass from young to old,
as if it was the girl herself I wore
(or she was wearing me); as if her whole
self, in a reverse metempsychosis
—not a sweater, not a message; her—
was mine; as if what most completely clothes us,
keeping our meager bodies from the cold,
is what belonged to someone else before—
what’s cast off, like a transmigrating soul.
(c) 2000; originally printed in
by permission of the author.