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Tailor To The King

3rd Place Winner of the Charlotte A. Newberger Poetry Contest

Great-great grandfather
Was tailor to the King of Sweden
The king kept his power
in seams and pleats and
Empty linings
waiting for his words.
The tailor invented, it seems,
a phrase with thread,
“By the cuffs of their trousers,
You will know them.”

By the cuffs of their trousers
You will know which coins will
touch in the bottoms
of their pockets,
And which pockets are linen,
Which wool, which silk.

By the colors on their lapels,
The signals sent by their buttons,
Which leather, which copper,
Which ageing gold.

Grandfather worked in the evening,
Then gathered his needles in books
And stacked his earth colored bolts of
fabrics waiting for a soul to wear them.

His suits, everyone knew,
Would walk with creases
as even as the equator.
As flat and honest
as his fatherly iron.

When the king wore grandfather’s suits,
Even his majesty’s shoes praised them,
And his felt brimmed hats
Sang down on them with joy.

Emily Schneider is a poet and teacher who lives on Long Island.