Poetry thrives on original language, but one cliché I’ve leaned into is ownership of a dozen or so black turtlenecks. They’re not uniform like Steve Jobs’ hundred Issey Miyake mocks, and are mostly the product of thrifting. Varied in fabric, texture, and undertone, they're the first grab out of my closet most chilly mornings. On the shelf:
- a couple silky floppy-necked ones that belong under ski gear
- one wooly oversized that looks like it was knitted with fat needles
- one snug ribbed, tight fresh out of the washer, but relaxes through the day
- one mock turtle with a zipper in back, inherited from my Grandmother’s closet
- a couple faded cottons, out of shape from being the handiest dust cloth and glasses' polisher
Okay, so maybe it’s caricature, but I’m not some melancholic and haven’t, so far, used them as subject matter. The stable, neutral background of a black shirt is non-distracting. An unlimited palette of color can go over or under to accessorize for professional moments, but the rest of the time, which is most of the time, it recedes with me in it. Then the words can dance unimpeded.
And besides, they’re warm when Ohio spring begins in the guise of ongoing winter. Probably, I should move to a place that’s cold year-round, because in summer, who knows what a poet should wear?