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Poem: A Yearning to Wrinkle

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Everything has changed. People keep saying this. Our dressy shoes go nowhere. Our velvet jackets hang lonely in the closet, if we’re lucky enough to have a closet. In the Californian Charlie Pendergast’s poem from his new book, “Used With Permission,” a shirt makes an exciting imagined foray back out into an altered world — my favorite line is “purported to be once again at large” (as we dream of being!). Objects in our close worlds carry their own hopes. How could we have known how intimate we would become with cycles of light and daily routines?

By Charlie Pendergast

To break the spell of another today
I put on a special shirt;
crisply pressed,
proud of its perfection,
ready for the arena.
It made its way to my daily chair,
and innocent of guile began with purpose:
it purported to be once again at large,
in the world of men and women,
buying, planning, scheming, celebrating,
stealing little intimacies,
shrouding secret pleasures in common lies,
sharing random meals, running errands,
running this, running that, running!
But, really, no longer.
My shirt now takes longer to wrinkle,
and feels a longing to be stained over moments of wine,
hopes in vain for a nearby face to share
in the explosion of a laugh, and listens in despair
to overhear a conversation not meant for it.
It’s desperate for an airing in a din,
and then a satisfying drive home, anticipating a change
into something more comfortable,
and a reason to be sent off for its routine cleansing
and renewal. It yearns for the casual tossing,
to the floor, to the heap, and the drawstring sack;
the cycle, the routine, the weekly play of choices
and replay.

Naomi Shihab Nye is the Young People’s Poet Laureate of the Poetry Foundation in Chicago. Her most recent book is “Everything Comes Next” from Greenwillow Books (2020). Charlie Pendergast is the founder, with Kevin Connor, of the RiskPress Foundation, whose mission is to support and publish the work of emerging writers, poets and artists of all kinds. His new book, “Used With Permission,” is forthcoming from FMSBW Press (San Francisco, 2020).

Illustration by R.O. Blechman

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