A Furrier’s Grandchild

Paulann Petersen

 
BPR 48 | 2021

Once I’d taken my first step,
my grandfather made me
a fur coat and matching hat.
White cony. My grandmother made
the lining. Pale satin to lie
between the pelt’s napped underside
and my skin. In a year, I would
outgrow that cony coat.
But there would be others, each
just my ascended size. And hundreds
of customers’ coats—the chinchilla,
mink, and Persian lamb
I later tried on
in front of the fur shop’s
triptych mirror. Their length
dragging the floor, their sleeves
overtaking my wrists and hands.

Each time I entered
an animal’s skin, I could feel
the soft clutch of its death.
Cool. Sleek. Gleaming.
                I stroked
        that terrible beauty.
Each time the animal let me peel it
away from my shoulders, let me
return its fallen weight to hang
from the rack’s steel bar,
I was reborn.