Had you lived longer, perhaps
you might remember, or pretend
to remember, holding my hand
at that funeral on the last day
I’d see you alive, the two of us
meeting in that crowded vestibule
by chance after so many years,
both of us looking for space
on the coat racks, finding none,
leaving our coats on, a topcoat
for me, sweeping red winter coat
with white scarf for you, how
the usher, not sensing the history
flowing into that moment, seated us
shoulder to shoulder in a pew
far at the back. Then you asking if
I’d hold your hand, and I did,
feeling all of those lost years
beginning to pass back and forth
through our hands as we sat
looking forward, proper, respectful,
then stood to sing, fumbling
the hymnal. Would you remember
even a little of that? But you
couldn’t remember, as sometimes
I will, how after the funeral you
appeared from the back, walking
away, carefully, lame on your cane
over ice and a little new snow,

Page 340

your long white hair thrown over
your shoulders, in that red coat,
the brightest red anywhere, ever.

Page 341


Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser lives and writes in rural Nebraska. He is a former U.S. poet laureate (2004-2006) and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for his book Delights & Shadows (2004) in 2005. He also established “American Life in Poetry,” which is the syndicated column that appears in U.S. newspapers featuring a selected poem. He can be contacted at Kr84428@windstream.net.

How to Cite This:

Kooser, T. (2022). Red coat [poem]. Clio’s Psyche, 28(3), 340-341.

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