Caught by the River

My Favorite Sweater

8th October 2020

a poem by Ricky Ray

The moths have come and gone again another season.
Left portals in my coats and sweaters. I hope they
had a good meal, that the relics of sweat didn’t cause them

too much indigestion. They even supped on my favorite,
a third-hand green the color of pine, thick as a blanket,
the goats right up against me as the cold tries to stick

its hand into my chest. I hope they ate well enough
to bear another generation without the hunger
and suffering too many have known. Another hand

would hunt them down and smack the light
from their lamps, but today, as the Christmas sun
makes its five-minute visit through my north window,

where the cut flowers gave up their color in a month
I can’t recall—today, I wish the moths no ill.
I finger the holes they made in their service to hunger

and say to myself it’s all down to pattern, a shifting
, a thread of wool raveling into a thread of moth,
the moth’s wings the stitchwork of the hand that knits us all,

the hand itself a stich along a seam my mind unravels
attempting to recall. So I ponder the sweater, its genesis,
its journey, the unseen influence of the bodies that bore it

unto the spinner’s loom, and the bodies that bought it and wore it
before me. And I thank the goats and I thank the grass and I thank
the knitter whose brow furrowed over the intelligent design,

roomy in the shoulders, where my joints tend to complain.
And I thank the moths for their generosity, leaving plenty
of the forest-green cashmere to keep me warm.

I thank until I run out of things to thank, and the candle
burns low, and the whiskey disappears, and the night
calls me down. I take off the sweater and leave it,

hanging, uncovered in the closet, quietly inviting
the moths to come, to settle, to unhinge their mouths
and let the Earth knit their soft bodies again.


Taken from the collection The Sound of the Earth Singing to Herself, which is published tomorrow by Fly on the Wall Press. Order a copy here (£7.99).