Scar Coat

2017 Mixed Media on Linen by Arbor Lee

2017 Mixed Media on Linen by Arbor Lee

There is a coat, unworn yet faded that’s hung in the back of the closet for decades.

Wounds gathered in tattered patches that she stuffed deep into the bulging pockets.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Yet, she’s moved the coat from house to house, cramming it into to the smallest of spaces. Unsure of why she keeps it around, this ghost of herself, this heavy reminder.

From the depths of storage, she retrieved the coat and tenderly spread it out on the floor. Daring to delve into the overstuffed pockets, she pulled out the patches one by one.

Expecting blood stains and gaping holes— threadbare reminders of the pain she’d ignored. Instead, each wound was delicately stitched in vibrant jewel-toned embroidery thread.

One had an outline of lips, full and wide with ruby x’s sealing them tight

On another, a pair of tourmaline wings, with seams loosely bound in onyx.

There was a nest woven with amber thread resting on a fractured limb and an amethyst rose about to bloom, its center a cluster of garnet knots.

There was one with a river of sapphire waves drowning the outline of a woman’s face.

Each wound told a story, her story stitched by time.  Wounds longer than others, some

deeper than wide.

She began to stitch meticulously, piecing each patch to the whole of the coat. When

finally, she lifted the final piece— a heart stitched in shades of crimson. Noticing

threads raveling out from its center, she rushed to mend the fraying layers. As her

needle met the ragged edge, she heard a whisper “It’s opening, not broken.”

And she wept.

The faded coat that she shamed away was no longer heavy with pockets of secrets. Her

wounded life, no longer wounded but a patchwork of scars, most healed and some


With reverence, she stitched the final piece and having named every wound she

compassionately blessed them. Then she put on the coat and admired her work.

Her coat of scars, her textured life.