We've had a cold week in New York City, though after living for many years in the snow belt, it always seems to me that people here overreact to the first sign of winter. Out come the heavy coats, the woolen hats, the fleece-lined boots and the temperature hasn't even dipped below freezing. At least those quilted down jackets are out of style. They made one look, as one fashion reporter wrote, "like a walking hand-grenade."
This morning, while digging through my closet for a scarf (how did I accumulate so many?), I was reminded of Joy Katz's poem, which first appeared in Verse 21:1. Thank you, Joy.
In the bazaar of a distant country, you can try on a scarf and consider yourself in a handmirror. What is as easy and agreeable, far from home, as a silk square printed with hounds and birds and seated people? Walking along, thinking of the color of it tucked in your bag, is like remembering the Hindi word for “dog” just when you need it.
Wearing a scarf is another matter. One feels self-conscious as an oil painting bought to match upholstery.
At the accessories counters of department stores, scarves mass like drunk slatterns. One of them learns the color of your suit and offers a perfunctory comment on it, or “picks up,” as they say, like a pup picks up fleas, the color of your eyes.
Don’t hate yourself for being easily flattered. Think of French starlets, their heads wrapped carefully as loaves. Pretend they’re in your closet and not driving off in cream-colored convertibles.
by Joy Katz