Sunday, March 8, 2015

Female Dress - a poem

I studied the invitation.
Black tie optional.

What does that mean, I asked my sister,
the bride’s grandmother.

Tuxedos or dress suits, she said.

No, I mean for us.

Oh, formal. She wants us all
to wear long dresses.
I groaned.

When I was young, my husband said
I looked good
in female clothes.
Feminine, I countered.
No, he insisted. Female.

He brought some home
for me to try,
slinky dresses
that revealed too much
or emphasized places
where I had too little.

I took them back.

Now, I return the sage green dress bought days ago,
the one with gores at knee-length hem
that gave a kicky show of leg.
The rest of the dress?
Matronly. Dowdy. OLD.

Challenged now,
I flew in and out of shops,
slipped in and out of gowns
seeking the perfect size
and style
and color
. . . and me.

Then, on a whim,
I ventured to a big box store.
And there it was,
though nothing
like I had in mind.

Plain and simple,
this navy blue spaghetti strap –
this filmy slice of midnight sky –
exposes fragile, mottled skin,
undeniable evidence
of vanished youth.

And yet,
with shoulders draped
in creamy cloud of shawl,
this very female dress
is me.