“Is there no one who feels like a pair of pants?” Kenneth Koch, from his poem ‘Fresh Air’.
54% Polyester, 44% Virgin wool, 2% Elastane.
We met in the Men’s department of Marks and Sparks.
I was hanging on a ‘bargain rail’
squeezed between a short-sleeve, Hawaiian-style shirt
and a chunky mauve jumper, XX Large.
He examined my labels. Dry Clean Only.
I recall being taken only twice to Ballyhackamore Dry Cleaners.
The attendant addressed me as, ‘one pair of pants’.
I am, what-they-call, a year-rounder
which gives me an advantage over the 30 + pairs
vying for a prominent position on his wardrobe rail:
chinos, cargo, drawstring, khaki, joggers, jeans – regular,
relaxed and loose – suit pants, moleskin, 3 band hi-vis polycotton
and corduroy – narrow and wide wale, in cream, blue and green.
In lightweight wool I am his favourite for the Office,
but, in truth, I am uncomfortable in summer, supplanted by
cropped trousers, shorts and long-leg cool linen.
Sometimes I am worn 2-3 days consecutively,
then shunned for several weeks.
Stich by stich my loop-holes are unravelling,
I see the day when I am turfed out for some bright young Turk.
I stay positive, think back to happy days of our association.
I was there when his son was forceps delivered in theatre,
proud to carry the digital compact in my front pocket.
There is still a faint stain on my knee
from the spilled celebratory flute of bubbly.
Ray Givans lives in Belfast. He has been published in five poetry pamphlets, and in one full collection. The latter was ‘Tolstoy in Love’, published by Dedalus Press, Dublin. This collection was shortlisted for the Strong award, for best first collection by an Irish poet in 2009. His most recent pamphlet collection is, ‘The Innermost Room’, Salzburg Press, at the University of Salzburg