dorothy terry | toujours couture

26 09 2007

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Poetry Dispatch No. 188 | September 17, 2007

Writing Fashion

I often thought that it might be interesting to someday present a writing course based on “The Literature of Fashion.”

Which immediately leads to the examination of culture–especially ours, where fashion rules, and the times or the designers or the individual herself/himself attempts to make a statement. (For what purpose?) Just how this might be explored for the benefit of the class members, just how it might help them become better, more observant writers…well, that would be the teaching challenge. (But I think I know the way.)

With all that in mind for future reference, I have kept a file on this idea for a number of years. Certainly there would be biography to choose from (historical, celebrity, etc.) as well as fiction (novels, short stories), various magazines for study–and possibly poetry. However, given this writer’s need to focus on priorities in the time ahead, I doubt this course will ever materialize. Nevertheless, thanks to this excellent new poem by Dorothy Terry, I will keep the fashion file open and surely include a copy of “Toujours Couture” as prime source material.

This is the first publication of Dorothy Terry’s poem. Norbert Blei

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TOUJOURS COUTURE by Dorothy Terry

If they put me in the solitary ward
And tied my arms tight to my side

And cuffed my legs so I could
Never flee, I would still be free

To escape in my mindless mind
To the swollen end-of-season racks at

My favorite tres luxe clothing store
Where vain dreams hang side by side

With Dior chiffon, Chanel knit
Any end-of-season day of sales

Spring, summer, fall or winter I reach
Between discrete silk padded hangers

And slowly withdraw the sad, distressed
Out-of-season, limply hanging YOU

Who, with just a small reviving stitch
And gentle iron’s caress, will certainly

Evoke strong statement of my intent
To spend life no day older than I am today

And right away, I promise to save, preserve
And accept you, even with your slightly tainted

Fondled vintage airs, and fading
Violet shadows under arms

Your fragile beauty suspended only by a silken thread.
I am the savior who freed you yesterday

From rusty, sagging thrift shop rack
Or filthy third-world backstreet stall

Where you, like other royalty of rags
Spent final ignominious days, hanging ‘round

With tattered satin, snagged lace, limp linen
All destined for the shredding bin

Severely stained by dirty, unattended hands.
Therefore, I promise you upon every fraying seam

So lightly sewn by clever fingers which
Rose and fell so hungrily, like bees upon

A willing flower, I here and now
Do promise you eternal salvation from

A dire, bruised and slightly used hell which
Lured proud you, and all your retro ways

To Ophelia and that tiresome reparatory company
A squalled season laid out on splintered, bare barn boards

Instead I offer you and your every snap, zipper,
Bakelite button and bound seam

Salvation forever from the darkness, the stench of
Mothball smell, depressing fumes

Of murky side street Salvation store
Where at last you rested, hanging by a thread.

Therefore, I plan to wear you Wed or Dead
Lying now across my bed

I so admire the way you fell, still
Flirting still with grace and tattered charm

Despite those years of storage pall
No, never, never, never will I fling you away

Well,
Not today …

copyright Dorothy Terry September 6, 2007

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Dorothy Terry , chronicler of the Fantastical Travels of TSE, is a Chicago area poet. Her poetry has been published in The Thing about Second Chances, Polyphony Press, Chicago; InPrint, Persiflage Press, Chicago, and Zocalo, Oaxaca, Mexico., and InPrint, Newberry Library, Chicago. She was selected as an annual Newberry reader in 2004, representing Brooke Bergan’s workshop.

She also has served on the Editorial Board of a upcoming anthology by Persiflage Press, and is currently completing three books: Snapshots, a book of short form poetry; Under Mt.Alban, poems of Oaxaca, Mexico; and THE LAST TRUMPET – A poetic drama about the Great Flood of Orleans, circa 2005 A.D., including the activities of the Devil Himself as well as the famous Baron.

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