I know your father’s size,

And his closet won’t fit you.

Your necks are too different,



The sleeves won’t be right;

Your skin will look pale

And dead

With that leathery brown,



Your dad starches his coat collars.

He wears them turned up,

Straight up,

I barely can see his chin half the time.

But I know how pointy it is,

And trust me,

Your jaw’s not the same, Oliver.


Have you ever seen him in rage

Or in tears?

Fumbling as badly as every man?

Have you ever seen him crack the white plaster?

Have you ever seen him exhale?

I’ve seen enough of your daddy,



Fists up

Like a coat collar,

Stiff thrift

Like a coat collar.


But your mother’s wounded womb,

Loving and desperate,

Built you with a fragment of her flesh.

That’s why,

Oliver dear,

Papa’s coat won’t fit you,

Don’t try,


That collar will never look right.