The Ancient Modern

Lost / Joshua Alan Sturgill

14 shirts.
8 pants.
13 pairs of socks. I lose a few every year to holes in the heels.
3 belts. 1 accidentally stolen from a monk, 1 inherited from my father when he died, 1 left by a friend who moved away and never asked for it to be returned.
3 neck ties from the 40’s (an estate sale find).
3 vests.
1 suit (from my wedding).
10 sweaters. I especially like my sweaters; I like sweater weather.
15 T-shirts. Most are grey or light blue, though a few bare my college logo. I wear almost nothing with words or bright color. Browns, greys, blues. Dark reds. Orange is my favorite color, generally, but not for clothes.

When I look, as now, into my open closet, with its shelves and hangers and laundry basket, I wonder: where did it all come from? I wonder whose it was before, and how many hands were involved in the cutting and sewing, the transport and the displays. I just receive. The clothes arrive, remain, wear out, get lost or torn or stained, move on. A few I feel some attachment to. A few favorites. But my clothes seem to me to live their own quiet clothing-life: a trajectory which happens to run nearly parallel with mine, for a season or a few years.

But there was one thing: a pair of red-brown leather shoes, with soft soles and good arch support. Shoes I felt a strange affection for. A surprising thrift store find, if I remember, but they seemed to have found me. They were dressy enough for Sundays, sturdy enough to go hiking by the river even in the mud. But one day—in the middle of an afternoon!—they were just gone. I’d taken them off for some reason. And I looked for them for a long time, but I couldn’t remember where I last saw them, or where I might have set them aside. Absent. Confusing. Lost.

And a part of my mind (the lizard-brain or the child-brain or the lobe that handles questions during sleep) still keeps looking and looking. Searching for those shoes is now something automatic or even unconscious. It’s been 25 years or more, and still I catch myself thinking maybe I’ll find them and I imagine that as soon as I see them, the locked-up memory of how they disappeared will return in a flash. Maybe they’ll be right here when I open this box, or pull out this drawer. But the boxes and the drawers have all changed, because I’ve lived in so many different places and I’ve lost so many other things since then.

All poetry and supplementary material: copyright 2020 by Joshua Alan Sturgill. All rights reserved.

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