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Eleanor Roosevelt’s Wedding Gown

ISSUE:  Autumn 2003
It will rot, like all things, the threads
into soil, into beautiful soil. A lace bodice

of sunlight wraps around trees, and the gentle
oxidation, the airborne creatures, will eat the gown’s silks
into dust. Taken in. Traces of tissue

under her nails: Ellen sat beside me
at the shelter, bleeding and broom-raped, and reached
for a book by Roosevelt,

Eleanor: On My Own. With a jacket
photo of fabric swirling

from around her waist, from her shoulders,
toward the dark. She, steady, brilliant,
at the center of light that poured

from the portrait. Swathed in the materials
of politics, and baby’s breath,
and compounds more intricate:

progesterone, corpuscle, Victorian fiber,
bone, —no,

late Victorian; taxonomy matters.
Microphyte and microspore, each different
materials in plant-life weavings. For instance,
he meant to be precise, the cop

at the shelter, when he called Ellen
an intervention-meriting situation: leaves fell
open in the book, flesh crumbled

from her face. Eleanor Roosevelt was born
Eleanor Roosevelt. Did she change
her name? But Ellen

was gone, I don’t belong
here, and did not return: apparitions
at the hospital, the store, no one knew for sure—
she left no trace.


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