I had a black coat. A poet gave it to me some years ago on my fifty-seventh birthday. It had been his—an ill-fitting, unlined Comme des Garçons overcoat that I secretly coveted. On the morning of my birthday he told me he had no gift for me.
—I don’t need a gift, I said.
—But I want to give you something, whatever you wish for.
—Then I would like your black coat, I said.
And he smiled and gave it to me without hesitation or regret. Every time I put it on I felt like myself. The moths liked it as well and it was riddled with small holes along the hem, but I didn’t mind. The pockets had come unstitched at the seam and I lost everything I absentmindedly slipped into their holy caves. Every morning I got up, put on my coat and watch cap, grabbed my pen and notebook, and headed across Sixth Avenue to my café. I loved my coat and the café and my morning routine. It was the clearest and simplest expression of my solitary identity. But in this current run of harsh weather, I favored another coat to keep me warm and protect me from the wind. My black coat, more suitable for spring and fall, fell from my consciousness, and in this relatively short span it disappeared.