Academy of American Poets
View Cart | Log In 
Subscribe | More Info 
Find a Poet or Poem
Advanced Search >
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Doty
Mark Doty
Born on August 10, 1953, Mark Doty is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, which received the 2008 National Book Award...
More >
Want more poems?
Subscribe to our
Poem-A-Day emails.
FURTHER READING
Related Poems
Compendium of Lost Objects
by Nicole Cooley
Poems about Beauty
Endymion, Book I, [A thing of beauty is a joy for ever]
by John Keats
Muse & Drudge [just as I am I come]
by Harryette Mullen
Beauty Supply
by Lee Ann Brown
Design for a Silver Box in the Shape of a Melon, 1918
by Jonathan Thirkield
Faults
by Sara Teasdale
It's obvious
by Greg Hewett
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
by Anne Sexton
The Part of the Bee's Body Embedded in the Flesh
by Carol Frost
The Poster Girl’s Defence
by Carolyn Wells
Trees Need Not Walk the Earth
by David Rosenthal
Poems and Clothing
"What Do Women Want?"
by Kim Addonizio
Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
by W. B. Yeats
Black Jackets
by Thom Gunn
Black Nikes
by Harryette Mullen
Borrowed Dress
by Cathy Colman
Coat
by Peg Boyers
Dialect of a Skirt
by Erica Miriam Fabri
Dressmaker
by Éireann Lorsung
Duality
by Tina Chang
Fat Southern Men in Summer Suits
by Liam Rector
My Shoes
by Charles Simic
Ode to a Dressmaker's Dummy
by Donald Justice
Old Coat
by Liam Rector
Red Shoes
by Honor Moore
Shirt
by Robert Pinsky
The Plaid Dress
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Upon Julia's Clothes
by Robert Herrick
Wedding Dress
by Michael Waters
White T-shirt
by Lewis Ellingham
Sponsor a Poet Page | Add to Notebook | Email to Friend | Print

Couture

 
by Mark Doty

1.

Peony silks,
	in wax-light:
		that petal-sheen,

gold or apricot or rose
	candled into-
		what to call it,

lumina, aurora, aureole?
	About gowns,
		the Old Masters,


were they ever wrong?
	This penitent Magdalen's
		wrapped in a yellow

so voluptuous
	she seems to wear
		all she's renounced;

this boy angel
	isn't touching the ground,
		but his billow

of yardage refers
	not to heaven
		but to pleasure's

textures, the tactile
	sheers and voiles
		and tulles

which weren't made
	to adorn the soul.
		Eternity's plainly nude;

the naked here and now
	longs for a little
		dressing up. And though

they seem to prefer
	the invisible, every saint
		in the gallery

flaunts an improbable
	tumble of drapery,
		a nearly audible liquidity

(bright brass embroidery,
	satin's violin-sheen)
		raveled around the body's

plain prose; exquisite
	(dis?)guises; poetry,
		music, clothes.

2.

Nothing needs to be this lavish.
	Even the words I'd choose
		for these leaves;

intricate, stippled, foxed,
	tortoise, mottled, splotched
		-jeweled adjectives

for a forest by Fabergé,
	all cloisonné and enamel,
		a yellow grove golden

in its gleaming couture,
	brass buttons
		tumbling to the floor.

Who's it for?
	Who's the audience
		for this bravura?

Maybe the world's
	just trompe l'oeil,
		appearances laid out

to dazzle the eye;
	who could see through this
		to any world beyond forms?

Maybe the costume's
	the whole show,
		all of revelation

we'll be offered.
	So? Show me what's not
		a world of appearances.

Autumn's a grand old drag
	in torched and tumbled chiffon
		striking her weary pose.

Talk about your mellow
	fruitfulness! Smoky alto,
		thou hast thy music,

too; unforgettable,
	those October damasks,
		the dazzling kimono

worn, dishabille,
	uncountable curtain calls
		in these footlights'

dusky, flattering rose.
	The world's made fabulous
		by fabulous clothes.






From Atlantis by Mark Doty, published by Harper Perennial. Copyright © 1995 by Mark Doty. Used by permission of the author.
Larger TypeLarger Type | Home | Help | Contact Us | Privacy Policy Copyright © 1997 - 2014 by Academy of American Poets.