Winter Coat —Karima Hoisan

My mother’s winter coat
falls on its own
in the back of a closet
on a warm day in June
in a country
she never knew;
never pulled out,
to shield her against a
harsh and howling
desert gust.
For she was,
born, raised and died
A Milwaukee girl,
her winters, longer and colder.
This big black coat
a loyal bodyguard,
going with her everywhere.

Snowflakes piled up
on the shoulders
refusing to melt 
on the spot.
As she took long proud strolling steps
along Lake Michigan’s banks,.
The coat was part of her,
and she wore it so well.

I packed this heavy coat
in my suitcase,
carried it to Jordan one Ramadan, 
a year after she passed away,
thanked it nightly 
for its warmth,
as I walked home 
late from prayers.

Once, it belonged to my mother,
then, it was passed along to me.
Now it belongs to anyone
who needs a coat
in my adopted family

In our dreams we think
we are the owners,
but all is rented here,
even our very lives
are contracts
signed before our birth.
All is finite and ending,

few renewals binding.
People, faces, coats, all places,
they are but rented chairs
for a party,
and when our party is over
they are rented elsewhere.

My mother’s heavy coat
has nothing to do on a June day,
so it falls to the floor of the closet
out of space and time.
Waiting for the season,
and the renter’s need to find it,
live inside it for awhile,
give it form and of course purpose,
walk it out into the cold night air
and breathe…
simple continuity sublime.

Karima Hoisan
July 10, 2001
Karak Jordan

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