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ISSUE:  Spring 1988

Typing paper and white-out bought, sacked,
and clutched to my breast as if with purpose,
I find myself still shopping: is it the wish to be,
or the feeling of being already no one at all
that lures me through the aisles and aisles of racks
of useless skirts, coats, scarves, and into the little
triple-mirrored, locked and hot-lit fitting stalls?
Work done for the week, not much appetite, so easy
to think—as the advertisers mock—why not
just try this silk? And it’s the salesgirl’s job
to seem to have all evening, to seem to know
your taste and know too that this dress she’s brought you
you would never buy or even have occasion for,
but ought to: not sexy, necessarily; elegant in a way
meant to please nobody. You slip it over your everyday
cotton underwear and step out shyly. “Your color,”
she says, of course, buttoning the cuffs for you,
but then so gently turning you toward each mirror
with her hands pressing your shoulders lightly—
with the cool shining fabric between you—
watching you, watching you in the silk,
her hands never letting go.


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