Long Black Coat
by John Grey
A hundred and fifty years ago,
the guy wearing it could have
been a gunslinger. These days,
he’s most likely a pall-bearer at a funeral.
The gunslinger would have
kept the undertaker in business.
Now, it’s heart-attacks,
cancer. Sure, they’re like bullets.
But over time. Without the drama.
My father wore a long black coat
and he was neither Wild Bill Hickock
nor some guy plugging his latest line
in rosewood coffins. My mother said
he looked like a foreign spy.
But to him, it was just the thing
for keeping warm and dry in bad weather.
I remember him staring in the mirror,
like he was making sure it was him inside the coat.
No gunslinger, no pall-bearer.
Certainly no foreign spy.
Sometimes, if it wasn’t for ourselves,
we’d never know who’s reflecting.
Sure he already had the cancer.
But he was careful to button it just right.