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My Blue Shirt

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hangs in the closet
of this small room, collar open,
sleeves empty, tail wrinkled.
Nothing fills the shirt but air
and my faint scent. It waits,
all seven buttons undone,
button holes slack,
the soft fabric with its square white pattern,
all of it waiting for a body.
It would take any body, though it knows,
in its shirt way of knowing, only mine
has my shape in its wrinkles,
my bend in the elbows.
Outside this room birds hunt for food,
young leaves drink in morning sunlight,
people pass on their way to breakfast.
Yet here, in this closet,
the blue shirt needs nothing,
expects nothing, knows only its shirt knowledge,
that I am now learning—how to be private and patient,
how to be unbuttoned,
how to carry the scent of what has worn me,
and to know myself by the wrinkles.

Poem copyright© 2013 by Gary Whited, “My Blue Shirt,” from Having Listened, (Homebound Publications, 2013). Poem reprinted by permission of Gary Whited and the publisher.
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My Blue Shirt

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  • Gary Whited is the author of the poetry collection Having Listened (2013), winner of the Benjamin Franklin Book Award. His poems have appeared in several journals, including Salamander, Plainsongs, the Aurorean, Atlanta Review, and Comstock Review.
    Whited earned his PhD in philosophy from Penn State University, and he taught philosophy at various universities, including University of Montana, University of Texas-Austin, and Emerson College.

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