Poem — Gregory O’Brien

Ode to fashion

(for Doris De Pont)

 

Of your over-reaching lines
and the displaced
hem

enough said, fashion being
a kind of biography
in which

the shape of a life
is contained
but not

in words. Let us consider
instead what is revealed
in the measuring

room: the state of undress that lies
at the heart of dress. Oh
dizzying hemispheres

of Fashion, you encircle the
dangerous princesses
of Monaco

as you do the waists of young mothers
recently delivered of
their children.

Scholars listen to the rustling pages
of your collars and cuffs
as indeed they might

ponder the infinite sleeves
of your infinite arms
rocking us

both towards and away
from sleep. So like
and so unlike

the world of which you are
a part, you have
your designs

and your points of distraction
your deft marriages
and the occasional

embarrassment. Out on your limb
you wear your creases
but not as

we wear age. Yet you are
also a museum
of gestures

glances, with your multi-storied
wardrobes, those libraries of
previous seasons

apartment blocks in which
evenings of a life
are stored.

If we tumble, your good skirts
will gather us
and if we fall

your lavish designs will raise us
again. Should we become
unstitched

your fabrics will wrap around the two
of us – at least until
season’s end. Then

it will be
curtains
and the wafting poetry
of curtains
for you

floating out towards the horizon
of the infinity pool
where these

cultivated waters touch
a raging sea, that

quiet seam

beside which I sit
awaiting further
instructions.

 

Gregory O’Brien

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