Three months after their October debut,
the spring fashions have arrived,
as mysterious as ever.
A store-window mannequin
clutches the hem of her cocktail dress,
an expression of frightened vulnerability
painted on her bone-white face.
Out here, it’s hard to tell women
from men in January’s unisex garb:
dark parkas, hats covering half
their heads. They walk briskly,
no time for window-shopping.
I pull my fingers out of
the finger-holes in my gloves
& ball them into fists for warmth.
I think of my gardener friends
starting their flats of tomato seeds,
filling their houses with the smell
of baked earth.

the smell of baked earth – Actually, most gardeners these days probably just buy sterilized potting soil, but when I was a kid we always used to get soil from the garden during a thaw and bake it in the oven to kill the weed seeds.

Don’t forget to check out the growing collection of posts for the theme “Come Outside” at the always-fashionable qarrtsiluni.

12 Replies to “Fashions”

  1. I love how the three seasons you write about help define one another, how you signal it in the first three lines and have it play out as the narrator moves away from the display.

    Handsomely done!

  2. I never heard of baking soil to kill weed seeds.
    When I was a teen in Pocatello, Idaho, we used to catch Snake River chubs just below the dam at American Falls and later bury them in the neighborhood garden we all shared down at the end of the street. Good fertilizer.

  3. When I use to have a garden, I baked the soil several times, but I usually just bought potting soil. I just got to thinking…..I have not received any seed catalogues yet. Either I am no longer on the lists or there will be no spring……

  4. Alan – We did that with suckers from the Little J one year, but otherwise just used chicken manure.

    Neighborhood gardens sound like such a great idea!

    Fred – I imagine these days you can just order stuff online. But I always used to like poring over the seed catalogues, especially Gurney’s, Jung’s and Johnny’s.

  5. I like this poem, Dave.

    I’ve read about baking garden soil, but that it creates an awful smell in one’s kitchen. Since I get a LOT of compost it would be cheaper than buying potting soil, but it never gets hot enough here to kill the weed seeds. And I worry about cooking the good organisms like the worms. So, I buy the commercial stuff which gets costly in the quantities I go through.

  6. Hey Dave,

    this is an Anarchitectural moment. The Anarchitects were were a group of artists, musicians and others who gathered for an instant in the early ’70s in New York.

    Said one of the founders (Gordon Matta-Clark) of the Anarchitecture movement:

    ‘The group’s architectural aim was more elusive than doing pieces that would demonstrate an alternative attitude to buildings…We were thinking more about metaphoric voids, gaps, leftover spaces, places that were not developed…for example, the places where you stop to tie your shoelaces, places that are just interruptions in your daily movements.’

    This quote is from

    Of course, I have only just learned of all this this morning, but I think I have a flash of insight when I read of your streetside motions, from finger-holes to balled fist, how you move from outside in.

    As ever, today I enjoy again your plastic agility. Thanks!

  7. That’s very interesting – a new one on me, too. Thanks. But as for images of outside and inside spaces, yeah, I think about that sort of thing as I write and revise a poem. For example, in an early draft I just had the hands balling into fists inside my gloves (logically enough), but eventually decided it would work better if I focused on the fingers coming out of their burrows.

  8. I agree with that!

    Strange the way I make self-reflective associations, comment on them, you comment back and I am redirected into your poem which now comes alive in a matrix of sounds and images. Thanks. I just don’t get it on the first go.

  9. Bill – That’s cool. I personally don’t have much use for literary theory, but any path into the work is O.K. with me.

    Shai – Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Oh, I don’t think I’m referring to that. I’m meaning having my ears come alive to the sounds of the words. I mean to be the opposite of theoretical. Is it syncretism when the sounds of the words ellicit images? When the bodily act of moving tongue and diaphragm, pushing the chin down and out releasing a wet, sharp, crackling rounded shape a meld of fire and furball. “Fists”.

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