Other People’s Clothes
All of my life I have been wearing them,
the hand-me-downs, the pants too long,
arms of sweaters stretched longer than mine,
sleeves of shirts I rolled up like newspapers,
those shoulders that would never stay in place,
always remembering: we are here to fit in.
And the very shoes that narrowed on my feet,
I gave away or traded up for other people’s soles.
I have thought somewhere there must be men
whose socks don’t shrink, whose buttons stay put,
whose shirts never wear out at the elbows.
I paid for what other people gave away.
All of my life I wanted to stand tall,
but as I grew up my clothes kept wearing out, when
in my child’s heart, I only wanted the comfort of corduroy,
a face that didn’t need ironing, a crease that would stay put—
these labels I hoped wouldn’t rub off.