The Coats
By Robert Plath

I was four years-old
and I remember waking up
in a strange bed 
like I had been knocked out
and taken to some mysterious place
it was dark and shadowy
I remember feeling like someone
was next to me but it was just
the coats of guests that get lain across
a bed in an unoccupied bedroom
then I heard voices through the door
and laughter
and I knew we were at
my aunt and uncle’s Brooklyn apartment
at some point my father must’ve carried me
in and put me in bed next to the coats
all the adults were playing cards in the dining room
I felt like a ghost
ironically the littlest person was the ghost
that’s what it was like to be a child
you’re placed in a dark shadowy room next to
the well-lit room of the living
always a door in between the two worlds
you’re teased by distant laughter and cracks of light
and cigarette smoke
doomed to lie among the half-furniture
next to the pile of coats
one part living, three parts ghost
always a room away…
that was in 1974
now it is 2006
I turn 36 in another week
and I’ve found in my recent years
that I’m magnetically drawn to
those dim rooms adjacent to the living
more at ease in half-light and shadow
among the strewn empty coats
the hindrances the living throw off