Dressed

It took years to learn to dress myself.
Mass-produced underwear
Sweatshop shirt
But then it gets interesting.
My hat is a handmade gift from an parishioner
Who was blessed by my predecessor.
My sweater is self-made
Using knowledge from books
And a friend in Vancouver.
My boots are brand new
Top of the line
A Christmas gift
From generous in-laws
Who reach north through the vicarious fingers
Of Canada Post and Amazon.
My legs are layered in castoffs
Jeans from the thrift store
Leggings and snowpants
Rummaged from the dump
Where I was taught to forage.
My socks were extras
My husband didn’t need all four
In the package he got from Costco.
My coat is a masterpiece
Made by a local, bartered with a friend of mine
Who made it a thank-you gift
For a small service in a difficult time
When she could have sold it
To feed her family for months.

It took years to learn to dress myself
Because I wasn’t raised here.
But even if I were
I would have been taught and dressed
Like I teach and dress my child
Stuffing her in hand-me-down rabbit skin
No choice
Because windchill doesn’t negotiate
Frozen toes won’t wait for tantrums
Or adult ignorance

It took me years to learn to dress myself
But I no more dressed myself
Than saved myself
When the belt broke on the machine
No spare
Neighbor came
Home before fifty fingers turned white.
There is no such thing as self-sufficiency
There is only competence
Built on generosity.


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