The Dressmaker's Dummy

Poem by Jane Blue. Photo by Jill Burhans.

It started when you were very young.
How you wanted to reach inside yourself
and pull out another you, a glamorous, wispy
girl of perfect proportions, to flesh out
the slender picture on the pattern envelope; you knelt
on the floor and pinned tissue to cloth, the gossamer
way it felt under your hands, imagining
the being you would create. And later, after
you were married, the frisson of the fabric store,
your children playing among the skirts of the bolts.
And then the suicide drop of your heart
when you tried on the dress, or the coat, or the pants,
and somewhere, always somewhere, at the waist,
at the shoulders, across the ass, it didn’t fit.
He thought you were fine the way you were, loved
your wide-hipped body. Only your body. You
wanted to open his khaki chest to find his heart.
Did it really pump red blood like yours?
He was like the dressmaker’s dummy,
perfect in every way. And that was why
you beat your small and ineffectual fists against him,
but only you, only you, wept. 

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