Friday, August 19, 2016


When I wear the poet's vest,
people stop and stare.
When I walk down the street, 
they follow me. As if mellifluous words 
were trapped in the hemline.
My poet's vest has bolstered me 
through many poetry readings where 
I doubted my words, but they became whole 
and imbued with context. 
My poet's vest made from war-torn Highland
huipils of women no longer alive.
Their voices speak to me 
when I wear the poet's vest. 

Indigo flowers teach the fabric 
of the midnight skies, 
where an Aurora flits and dances 
like a raucous parrots and star clusters 
contemplate the sky's jewels.

My poet's vest, older than all my relationships, 
I bought on sale, it cost a month rent. 
My friends urging me on, saying: it's so you.
It was a great thing to do, I am so frugal, 
especially when it comes to the self, 
I counted out my money, 
friends chipping in $10 here, $5 there. 
Leap of faith that all would work out in the end.

See, I had just given a reading in the gallery 
where the walls were cloud banks. 
All that investment of summer sky 
and night secrets. Susan says 
nichtallaludi, a Greek word 
of hidden muses wanting to dance 
on the tongue of night.
To paint flowers on the tongue
iI was not a feathered cloak,
but it was my passage to another world.

Ellen Bass Workshop

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