Shrouded Lady

William D. Hicks

Vintage Pattern

 

Fitted dinner dress with bolero jacket, ca. 1963

Grasping the tidy block of folded tissue,
slip it free of its corseting envelope.
The package reads Simplicity. The issue

unfolds its complications. They were many:
The parts to fit, the arts in altering.
Snip the sheets into bits, the flimsy, filmy

crinkles of fragile onionskin. Then press
each piece creaselessly perfect: nothing must veer
from measure. Decades now since you have done this.

Recall the coaxing curve to curve. The pinning.
The fingers teasing all into compliance.
The maddening cling and fray of satin lining.

The stay-stitching, the trim of seams, the turn.
The whipstitch as it cinches a final closure.
The way, at last, it all reverts to pattern.

Recall this. Then pick up the length of sable,
the black depths of this present to yourself.
Spill all its luxury across the table,

six yards. Silk velvet. Think of its perfection.
How it could still be anything. And now
taking a breath, begin its vivisection.