HPN

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Poetry of Issue #8        Page 36

A Zinc-Colored Shirt

You claim I’d look more myself
in a zinc-colored shirt. Not
light gray, but galvanized pure
molten zinc. Braving tangles
of interstate highway, I drive
to the shop you’ve specified.

Instead of a conventional door,
it offers a slot through which
I’m expected to drop like third
class mail. Is a pun involved?
The shopkeeper seems to think so,
inviting me with a manly wave.

Claustrophobia forbids me
from entering such a cramped space,
so I stand on the sidewalk and shout
“Zinc-colored shirt, please” for all
the world to hear. I flash
a credit card. Five minutes later,

the slot ejects a parcel wrapped
in plain brown paper. The angle
at which it hits the sidewalk
seems non-Euclidean. The light
of the March afternoon collapses,
attempting to muffle its tears.

After an hour of wrestling traffic,
at last I unwrap the shirt,
which gleams like chain mail and fits
so absolutely I’ll never
take it off. Thank you for suggesting
such a hard metallic look.

No one will find me wimpy
droopy, or sullen in this shirt.
The buttons button too firmly,
and the breast pocket contains
a valentine from the universe,
my first exposure to love.

William Doreski