Sunday, January 19, 2014

Assignment 1 : Thirteen Ways of Wearing Socks

(a poem inspired by Wallace Stevens’ Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird)

They are hospital socks
Sewn to cushion a newborn
And not yet worn.
Suitable, yes, for an egg or shell
But instead, something truly fragile.

She slips them over her fingers,
Magic kicking in.
Suddenly her hands are wings,
Detective gloves or mermaid fins
And somehow they’re always in stock.

Her parents spit icy words.
She quivers at the cold snap.
At least her feet are warm.

Hidden beneath the bright boughs
The box is too small for a pony,
Too flat for the doll from Mr. Pete’s corner shop
(The one that smells like peanut butter),
But just right for pink bobbies.
They aren’t even frilly.

The locker room is home to
An infestation of white cotton,
Moderately dampened with the sweat
Of humiliation
From another successful gym class.

When he walks over her heart stops
As he looks her up and down.
“They don’t match.”
One is purple.
One is red to match her face.
She hates everything.

They land just below her knees
Surrounded by a sea of ankle cuffs
That are so far below her.
Today she is queen.
But she’ll never wear them again.

The socks come off first,
And then her innocence.

There’s no way these belong to her.
The creases are misaligned
With the gentle tapering of size nine.
So who is she?

Every laundry day is a lesson in coordination.
He still folds them in half,
Throws them in a drawer to get lost.

They’re lost.
What an idiot.

She can no longer put them on.
Her back keeps her looking straight forward
And slightly down
At the short and sorrowful sidewalk ahead.

They are hospital socks
Sewn to cushion her fall
And worn by too many.
Suitable for just a few days more

For she is truly fragile.

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