– Aliki Barnstone –
What a wreck of memories, aspiration, and poor
judgment—or good, if I’m fair
to myself. Any piece may be a private part
of a dress code I assemble for public view—
just as the sacred temple undergarment is
to the Mormon—
a tempting comparison, only I
like black lace (or like the eyes that like
my skin beneath).
Take this designer shirt—
cost me a song
I didn’t have to sing at a Las Vegas
boutique, a going-out-of-business sale.
The rippling gray & blue & green water motif
is lively not flashy, the tones spot on,
enough restraint to be classy, not dull
(oh, yes, like me—
or as I set my sights to be).
My ex touched my hip as I proudly modeled my find,
and approved the cut
and what it hid and revealed: our taste, the shared
proclivities we loved, then detested.
Today in my closet, unaffected, unmoved,
I deposit the garment into the bin labeled
Upscale, a thrift shop that gifts
vouchers to women in shelters
who need such attire for jobs and the courtroom.
Take my shirt. Let someone else make chic
its retro-mod look, someone
who doesn’t know me when she looks in the mirror,
She buttons mother-of-pearl,
leaving the top unfastened,
a little tease, a bit of fun,
for a weary mom toting her baby
behind the curtain of the makeshift dressing room.
Take this blazer and slacks no longer my style,
the outfit I wore to an interview in Toronto
for a job I no longer hold.
This sweater is prim—not me.
Stack on top every pair of toe-pinching shoes
‘til my baskets are full, and fill a few garbage bags, too.
Let someone else call finery and be blessed
by my dollars misspent, my losses, and history.
I’ll write it all off, come tax time.