Don’t call us, we’ll call you

October 6, 2010

Poetry: Dresses, 1996

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , — llcall @ 10:00 pm

There is such a long, long story behind this poem, which I might tell if this computer weren’t so unbelievably slow, but since it is, I will just say that I wrote it in high school for an assignment in which we had to mimic a famous poem.  I chose Sylvia Plath’s “Tulips.”


The dresses are too restrictive, it is Homecoming here.
Look how happy everyone is, how joyful, how excited.
I am learning confinement, slipping quietly into dresses
As the sequins choke these white arms, this neck, these legs.
I have nothing to do with penitentiaries.
I have given my scrubs to the committee
And my identity to the attendants and my body to dressmakers.

They bring me probation in their bright dresses,
Adding panels and snaps to suck out this last breath
And a golden chain to mock this last diversion.
Now I have lost myself; I am sick of clothes—
My green A-frame like a flowing, transient prison,
My once favorite brown and satin winking from the hanger;
Its brightness hooks my skin, little shining straightjacket.

The dresses are too tight in the first place.
Even through the store glass windows I could hear them laugh
Loudly laughing at their faceless victim.
Their laughter talks to my tears, it corresponds.
They seem to praise, though they shame me,
Strangling me with their low necklines
A million motley chains round my tabernacle.

Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.
The people turn to me, the invitation behind me
Where the faces widen with shock and thin with acceptance,
And I see myself, cold, contracted, a newly feathered cap-wearer
Between the eye of the invitation and the eyes of the dresses,
And I have no name but yours.
The vibrant dresses steal my oxygen.

The dresses should be lost in flames.
They are stretching like the elastic of a long rubber band
And I am aware of my size: it is too small for the six
It is too large for the four out of sheer spite.
There are no matching shoes anyway.
The gift I accept is pulsing with love
And comes from a place as far away as sanity.


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