Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: In Nightgowns

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

Chebeague Island is home to one of Maine’s liveliest poetry communities. In today’s poem Sheila Jordan, a member of that community, explores the familiar yet strange event of elderly women wandering outside in nightgowns.

In Nightgowns by Sheila Jordan

Nothing insists they get dressed.
Midmorning, like toddlers,
late parading in their pajamas,
they walk out of the house
in nightgowns.
What do they care who sees them
without a robe, appearing
in the first layer over
the Emperor’s new clothes,
these elderly women
sweeping the steps, accommodating
an arthritic cocker spaniel,
dead-heading the lilies.
Or they proceed like butterflies,
pastel-bright, to flutter
from this to that, breezy —
not explaining — in and out of sun and shade, air reaching up under a skirt.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2010 by Sheila Grey Jordan. Reprinted from Winter Wall, Stone Sleep Books, 2010, by permission of Sheila Grey Jordan. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to David Turner, Special Assistant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at poetlaureate@mainewriters.org or 207-228-8263.