So, I inherited these three coats
Of rabbit, mink, and fox.

The first was a pale blonde,
Ankle-length and downy.

The second was a deep brunette,
The color of roast coffee.

The third was a fulsome red,
Magnificently fiery.

Like three princesses they lived
In the dark of my mother’s wardrobe.

Our future selves, we loved to think,
As my sisters and I caressed them.

And some might say that this is
Wrong: to kill an animal for its skin;

Wrong, and even more to long
For them myself—think of the poor things

Dying, lying there just-butchered.
I should respect the lives that were,

Should take these hides, long-hidden,
Out to the woods and bury them.

But more than this I respect my mother,
For I know how she earned the three

(Think of a throat in a huntsman’s grip,
The rip of skin as the knife slides in…)

It would be a sin, I think, not to wear
What my mother paid for, skin for skin.

So throw your red paint, if you dare,
The color of a tongue or a cashbox;

My mother’s secrets breathed through furs
Of rabbit, mink, and fox.
by Mab Jones
Gemini Magazine
$100 PRIZE
Mab Jones is an award-winning performance
poet from Cardiff, Wales. A “fantastic” comic
and performer (BBC Radio), she has
performed all over the UK, as well as in
Washington, DC; New York, Philadelphia and
Toronto. "The Three Coats" is one of the few
poems she has written for the page.