Blazer - Kat Coolahan

I drive a short distance
to a town from my youth
too full of ghosts
to visit much for enjoyment.
I am here to retrieve an inheritance:
a straw hat adorned with pheasant feathers
that sits on the porch of my uncle’s home.
He is at work at the firehouse,
behind a locked door
his dog belts out large, gulping barks.
More discarded remnants
are tied up in white trash bags,
they smell of my grandmother.
Even before my hands undo the knots
a sweetness hits high in my nose
not like a flower, but bone-dry hay,
baking its pleasant aroma in the hot sun.
There are undertones of cigarette smoke,
Jean Nate, the brackish air
of her waterfront home on a blackwater river.

I came only for that hat,
perhaps a few linens,
but now I am excavating a piece
of her clothing, three years, three summers
after she left our world.
I slip on a corduroy blazer,
beige, deep brown buttons of wood,
in the sweltering stickiness of August,
pause overdressed, to inspect
the glass reflection in the storm door.
Does it fit?
The blazer envelops a black t-shirt,
dips down to partially cover ocean
blue running shorts.
Clothed half in formality,
but fully in the memory
of her deep-water love,
I cannot discern
which of us is smiling back.

Kat Coolahan is the friend you contact when you need a plant identified or an old-fashioned snail mail pen pal. Encouraged by a beloved grandmother, Kat picked up the pen in elementary school and has carried on Gooma’s poetic lineage ever since. Kat resides and was raised in the mid-Atlantic, but a piece of their heart remains in the Pacific Northwest, where they lived for three glorious years.

Kat reads poetry for the Boston-based Pangyrus literary magazine. Their poetry has appeared in Riverbed Review and Gingerbread Ritual. To connect with Kat or read more of their work, visit their website at or follow Kat on twitter: @katcoolahan.