Ragged Recollections

— Richard James

I found it while searching for my winter coat.
It hung deep in a dark closet corner,
a stiff, tan, rawhide jacket that only a seventeen year-old
hippie wannabe would wear, and an aging idealist would keep.
The leather had long lost its lusty scent and reeked of musky dust.
Daniel Boone fringe encircled the breast and back,
adorned its two front pockets and cascaded down the arms,
like the flight feathers of an ancient hawk.
Its black stitching missing in places, edges of the lapel
curling like burnt bacon, arms as stiff as a fireman’s hose,
and the salmon-colored lining in various shades of fade.

A constellation of stains and scars decorated the buckskin;
wine spots from campfire parties in the Yosemite wilderness;
a soiled, grey collar from a month of dirt camping
between Mexicali and Mazatlan;
the occasional burn-hole from badly rolled joints,
smoked on Baja beaches;
missing gaps of fringe from scaling tall trees
in the Canadian pine forests;
and a blotch of scarlet ink emblazoned on the front left pocket,
resulting in the coat losing its magic and ultimate abandonment,
all those years ago.

I returned the ragged recollections to their hiding place,
and found my shiny, new, hi-tech jacket,
the label proudly proclaiming,
“guaranteed not to rip, stain or wrinkle … for life.”

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