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May 2022
It’s always been enough to wear the same cardigan for comfort,
This old red chenille one I bought at the wholesale store when I was 15.
It’s funny—it never came with memories, but it has them with me.
I ripped a little hole in the crochet links more than once, bumping into corners and getting it caught on chairs;
I think I’ve always been getting caught on chairs. Snagging my best laid plans on what it means to be a person, wearing a cardigan, but,
It still sits in the back of my closet, in one piece.

I remember wearing it when I needed comfort. When comfort wouldn’t come. When comfort was a love letter delivered to the wrong address. When I read something that wasn’t mine, and became mine nonetheless, in worn out crochet. I should have thrown it out years ago, but it’s mine,
Tattered and torn and sitting in the back of my closet because I’m too afraid the next time I wear it will be the last before it rips completely.

I, on the other hand, have already ripped completely.
Because I could only stay in the closet for 19 years.
I miss that red chenille cardigan. It was there when I was there, in the closet, being me when I shouldn’t have been me,
And it stayed at home when I left for somewhere I thought was better.

I visit my parents. I suppose I still live there, in part, with that red cardigan.
Stuffed into a space that’s small but safe,
The way plants grow withered but tall without sunlight
Or the way I ended up so independent I became lonely.

I define loneliness by how well it wears a red cardigan.
I judge it by how much the snags and small unravelings stick out;
I love it for that. For the sticking out. For the unravelled yarn in place of my tangled emotions,
For the staples that I put in it because I didn’t know how to sew.
My mother could have taught me how to sew, but I exist in a whirlwind of quick fingers and dropped stitches,
And my woman’s place is not the same as hers.

I wish she’d taught me how to make flapjacks, how to repair cardigans, how to love a man;
I wish she hadn’t taught me that my father loved me.
I wish my father had seen an old cardigan and thought of repairs, instead of the old donation box it could be thrown into,
But he was never the type to try and fix things anyway.

I’ll fix his mistakes. I will keep that cardigan, that old thing,
And I will not repair the imperfections that have given it character.
What am I but a red chenille cardigan? Held onto but never worn?
What am I if not something to be contained at the broken seams in hopes that I can preserve myself longer?

So, I am preserved. A fossil. An old relic of Pompeii, frozen in ash, wearing a cardigan that I don’t really fit into anymore,
A wash of red amongst the black and grey wreckage;
Oh, how I have a home in the wreckage. How I am a cardigan atop the ashes.
It doesn’t flutter. There’s no wind to carry it.

In another life, I’d be the wind. But we’ve already established the story, haven’t we? I’m the cardigan.
I’m nothing but thread that’s woven itself into something of minor importance at best.
So, here I am. Minor importance. Worn cardigan. Here I am, wearing it all. Can you see it yet?
It’s riddled with holes, but still in one piece.
I wrote this with my girlfriend; we took turns writing one line each. I'm forever in awe of her command over words. She inspires me every day.
Written by
Gabriel  23/Transmasculine/UK
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