Old Shirt

She came apart at the seams
Of that old flannel shirt she could never
Part with.
It was all that he had left her with when he dropped her off
At the shelter, saying,
“I can’t do this anymore.”
And she watched him take off like
No strings.
That’s how he wanted it.
When the pills ran out, so did he.
sewed, sewed and sewed again
With every kind of thread, but she could never
Mend it.
It was what kept her going when she felt like she’d drop off
The spinning earth, crying,
“I can’t do this anymore.”
She let us watch
her take off
That shirt.
No shame.
No blame.
That’s how she wanted it.
When the cloth gave out, so did she.
And so wouldn’t we


Poet Marilyn Rea Beyer has been reading poetry in public since the 1960s but only began writing her own in the 2000s. She holds a Master’s in Oral Interpretation of Literature from Northwestern University and has had a varied career in teaching, high tech, folk radio and recently retired as PR Director at Perkins School for the Blind. A native Chicagoan and long-time resident of Lexington, Mass., she now lives on Massachusetts’ North Shore in Salem with her husband, history author and filmmaker Rick Beyer.

Glenn Bowie is a published poet, lyricist and photographer from the Boston area. He also owns and operates an elevator company that supplies custom-built elevators for clients from New England to Hollywood. Author of two poetry and photograph collections (Under the Weight of Whispers and Into the Thorns and Honey) on Big Table Publishing, he donates all profits from his books to various charities for the homeless and local animal shelters. Glenn is also the official photographer for the Newton Writing and Publishing Center.