Max Jacob's Leather Coat and the Possibility of Grief

by Ray Gonzalez
Gonzalez. Beautiful Wall. Max Jacob's Leather Coat and the Possibility of Grief
On the day the Gestapo came and took him away, the last three prose poems he was writing were left at the kitchen table along with his old leather coat that hung on the chair, until Jacob's landlord entered the room and grabbed it. One can retrace the history of the coat and notice the silhouette of a man sitting at the kitchen table without the coat that accompanied him all over Paris. The last three poems he wrote in freedom were about the leather coat because the sheets were found two weeks later by the young woman who rented Jacob's apartment. When she entered the kitchen for the first time, she picked up the pieces of paper, but did not know how to read, so she set the poems on the dirty table and went to inspect the other room. Max Jacob's last three poems before he was taken away by the Nazis were finally read by the figure sitting at the table, alone and bent over, squinting at the tiny handwriting, his leather coat worn tightly on his shoulders.