I Wear the People


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.

Old Man Winter Speaks

“Winter is the real miracle.”
                                  John Govan, S.J. 

Appearing to have buried their branches and kicked up their roots, the deciduous trees know the secret of winter is to withdraw the life force to the deeper inner parts and wait.  Flowers bid farewell to their petals and leaves and recede into the bulb and the branch and the root awaiting a day when conditions will be more favorable for tender growth.  The animal world stores fat and food, burrows down for a long rest, or flies to fairer grounds.  “Reassess your situation,” Winter warns.  “Retreat from the presumptions and assumptions which you acted upon in positions of plenty, privilege, and power.  Abandon the excess of my seasonal friends and remember your tenuous place in the universe.”

In a slightly gentler voice, Old Man Winter speaks, “Know death that encircles the life ember without snuffing out Life.  Know death that calls us to the deep mystery of our souls, far beneath the showy blossoms of our intellect or our actions.  Know death that can be the only path for another Spring.  For I, Winter, cradle Life within me.”

A thing’s appearance may belie its true nature.


When have you experienced the miracle of Winter?

Loyola House Feb 2012 006

© Amy Persons Parkes 2013