Black Silk

By Tess Gallagher b. 1943 Tess Gallagher
She was cleaning—there is always
that to do—when she found,
at the top of the closet, his old
silk vest. She called me
to look at it, unrolling it carefully
like something live
might fall out. Then we spread it
on the kitchen table and smoothed
the wrinkles down, making our hands
heavy until its shape against Formica
came back and the little tips
that would have pointed to his pockets
lay flat. The buttons were all there.
I held my arms out and she
looped the wide armholes over
them. “That’s one thing I never
wanted to be,” she said, “a man.”
I went into the bathroom to see
how I looked in the sheen and
sadness. Wind chimes
off-key in the alcove. Then her
crying so I stood back in the sink-light
where the porcelain had been staring. Time
to go to her, I thought, with that
other mind, and stood still.

Tess Gallagher, "Black Silk" from Amplitude: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1987 by Tess Gallagher.  Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved. www.graywolfpress.org

Source: Willingly (Graywolf Press, 1984)

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Poet Tess Gallagher b. 1943

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Relationships, Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality, Activities, Indoor Activities

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Tess  Gallagher

Biography

Poet, essayist, and short story writer Tess Gallagher was born in 1943 in Port Angeles, Washington, to a logging family. Her early years were marked by the rhythms of seasonal work, as well as the landscape of both the Northwest and the Ozarks, where her grandparents lived. “I don’t know how many children really get to explore vast amounts of territory like that,” she has said in interviews. “It builds something in you.” . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Relationships, Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality, Activities, Indoor Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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