I wear the people in the winter when I tug on her short black socks. “Clovice,” the label reads, stretching across the small toes of my right foot. Sewing her name on her socks kept the nursing home from losing them. Wherever she is now, she doesn’t need these socks any longer. I do. I wear her.
I wear the people like my Christmas tree bears ornaments – clumped, uneven, no coordinated theme, all sentimental and tattered. Sometimes, Canadian people and Caribbean people crowd around my left wrist; bangle bracelets clanging one against another. My Cajun chef slipping underneath a Floridian sister.
Sometimes, in the morning, I take six people with me to work. Swinging from my ears, resting in the hollow of my neck, encircling my wrist, they shift atop me like cargo on a plodding camel. Other days, they gently stir like chimes in the sweet breeze of memory.
The pecan trees in my father’s orchard wear mistletoe on their limbs. But his pecan trees are accessorized by a parasite, taking not giving. I wear the people of my life more like spent cotton stems. In late December, ebony, all but empty, stalks of cotton fly flossy flags of blanched fibers. These small white flags of surrender wave in cool winds, and the passerby knows the bounty of a lush crop only by its remnants. This is the way I wear the people and the plenteous inheritance I have received from knowing and being known by them.
A jewel here, a scarf there, a broach at my breast — nothing more than a small white flag of surrender. I have surrendered to their deaths, to the time that is no more, to their absence, to an exchange that will remain in the past. A great bounty shown only by a small token.
This is how I wear the people.