– Aliki Barnstone –

What a wreck of memories, aspiration, and poor
           judgment—or good, if I’m fair
to myself. Any piece may be a private part
          of a dress code I assemble for public view—
just as the sacred temple undergarment is
          to the Mormon—
a tempting comparison, only I
          like black lace (or like the eyes that like
my skin beneath).

Take this designer shirt—
          cost me a song
I didn’t have to sing at a Las Vegas
          boutique, a going-out-of-business sale.
The rippling gray & blue & green water motif
          is lively not flashy, the tones spot on,
enough restraint to be classy, not dull
          (oh, yes, like me—
or as I set my sights to be).

My ex touched my hip as I proudly modeled my find,
          and approved the cut
and what it hid and revealed: our taste, the shared
          proclivities we loved, then detested.
Today in my closet, unaffected, unmoved,
          I deposit the garment into the bin labeled
Upscale, a thrift shop that gifts
          vouchers to women in shelters
who need such attire for jobs  and the courtroom.

Take my shirt. Let someone else make chic
          its retro-mod look, someone
who doesn’t know me when she looks in the mirror,
          feeling smart.
She buttons mother-of-pearl,
          leaving the top unfastened,
a little tease, a bit of fun,
          for a weary mom toting her baby
behind the curtain of the makeshift dressing room.         

Take this blazer and slacks no longer my style,
          the outfit I wore to an interview in Toronto
for a job I no longer hold.
          This sweater is prim—not me.
Stack on top every pair of toe-pinching shoes
          ‘til my baskets are full, and fill a few garbage bags, too.
Let someone else call finery and be blessed
          by my dollars misspent, my losses, and history.
I’ll write it all off, come tax time.