David Rivard

Maria’s Yellow Coat
October 20, 2017 Rivard David

Maria’s Yellow Coat


I haven’t had

a whole lot of what you might call

‘sartorial smarts.’


But outside the café

where Maria once sat

in her belted yellow long coat

there’s an empty chair—

this wooden folding chair functioning

under the same bewildered memory

of her savage yellow coat

as both me

and the weak, early December sun,

a sun that floats

like Maria’s knitted newsboy cap

just above the horizon.


On the sidewalk

near this chair

lie a handful of mauled wing feathers,

plain gray & black feathers

not a single passerby

can step past

without staring. They seem surprised,

these passersby. Some of them

even stop to roll a quill or two between

thumb & index,

drifting off, a look of mild dismay

and concern on their faces—

the sound in their ears a heartbeat

their own

but nevertheless not exactly

like theirs, as if for that moment anyway

they held in their soft, dry hands

the living bird,

their heads bent close.

David Rivard is the author of seven books of poetry, the newest of which, Some of You Will Know, is out from Arrowsmith Press in October 2022.  His earlier books have won the PEN/New England Prize in poetry, the James Laughlin Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, and he has been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Among his other honors are fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation. He lives on the coast of Maine.