Dress

Posted by on December 15, 2006 in Poetry | 7 comments

 

William-Adolphe_Bouguereau_Seated_Nude

It had been wrinkled and awkward
for more than eight years
in the bottom of a chest.

Once in a while she would peek
down underneath the others just to
see if she remembered the
exact shade of blue.

Last week she pulled it out
to see if it would fit,
tried ironing out its shape,
but clumsily put fresh creases
here and there and then used
too much water.

She kept looking
for the round French collar,
dainty buttons,
and gorgeous pin tucks.
Thinking things, like
the waist didn’t used to look like this.
Then she saw the whole cloth—
that it had never been sewn together,
never even been cut out
in the first place.

Dear readers, this poem is still pretty new and I am looking for suggestions or feedback. If you feel so inclined, please leave comments. What are your impressions of the poem? What does it make you think of? How does it make you feel? Does it even make sense to you? Any kind of (constructive) feedback is welcome! Thanks.

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7 Comments

  1. Hey Brooke,
    I really like this one. To me, this is about looking at the past with rosy colored glasses. It is only when the woman deeply examines this object from her past that she realizes it wasn’t what she thought it was, that her mind had embellished and improved it falsely.

    At least that’s what I got from it after reading it a couple of times.
    Was this what you were going for, Brooke?

  2. I really liked the first 18 lines — because the “wrinkled and awkward” dress that’s hidden in the bottom of the chest feels like a part of her that’s buried, or a piece of her personality she’s longing to put on. Or a part that she feels she “should” play — but can’t quite wear with ease. Or aspects of each.

    It also reminds me of that outfit in my closet that reminds me of a piece of my past, that now longer fits me but that I can’t quite discard. When the “waist didn’t look like that,” I thought of both the unreliability of memory and the changing of the protagonist herself.

    I’m not quite sure what to do with the last four lines. I could pull out a metaphor for misjudging the dress, for recognizing it was an illusion . . . but I really liked the concrete imagery of the rest of the poem — the chest, the ironing, the French collar. It felt odd to have it disappate.

  3. Brooke:

    I miss the italicized line from the earlier version (note: I read this poem at our writer’s group on Sunday).

    I love this poem, for the way that it plays with memory–we all remember things in different ways from the reality. Memory is such a tricky thing. This poem evokes that for me. Plus it’s just beautifully written.

    On a personal note: I am looking forward to seeing what you make of the lovely blue fabric that you showed me on Tuesday. :)

  4. Thanks for your comments! Caroline, you are definitely on track. I was thinking about a relationship when I wrote it and about how the way our perceptions of memory change over the years–how we can “remember” something that never really happened.

    Deborah and Jana, you have given me more to think about when I revise. Jana, I’ll consider the italicized line once again. Something about it felt awkward, but I’ll revisit it.

  5. Now I’m curious — what’s the missing line?

  6. Instead of “Thinking things like…” it said:

    “I thought things, like
    the pleats didn’t used to look like this

    Another revision was changing it from first person to third. What do you think about those revisions?

  7. There’s a little looseness in it still, but I like it, and especially the end. To me it speaks of the fear of messing up, and how this fear keeps us from making what we dream of in our lives. It recalls (by contrast) of the beauty of practicing hard, getting good, and then (spectacularly) failing to make all-state orchestra in high school, and it mirrors the grimness of never having dared to try out for a play after the sixth grade, or fearing failure in marriage so much that I never dared even get close to marrying. :) Beautiful poem – heart-twisting, but beautifully thought out.

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