Poem Therapy: Self-portrait as a Thousandfurs - Stacy Gnall

Alexander McQueen

Self-portrait as Thousandfurs
Stacy Gnall

To have been age enough.
To have been leg enough.
Been enough bold. Said no.
Been a girl grown into that
negative construction. Or said yes
on condition of a dress. To be yours
if my skirts skimmed the floors.
To have demanded each seam
celestial, appealed for planetary pleats.
And when you saw the sun a sequin,
the moon a button shaped from glass,
and in the stars a pattern
for a dress, when the commission
proved too minute, and the frocks
hung before me like hosts,
to have stood then at the edge
of the wood, heard a hound’s bark
and my heart hark in return.
To have seen asylum in the scruffs
of neck—mink, lynx, ocelot, fox,
Kodiak, ermine, wolf—felt a claw
curve over my sorrow then. Said yes
on condition of a dress. To be yours
if my skirts skimmed the floors.
To have demanded each seam
just short of breathing, my mouth
a-beg for bestial pleats.
And when you saw tails as tassels,
underskins sateen, and in entrails
damasks of flowers and fruit,
when the bet proved not too broad
for you, and before me, the cloak held
open as a boast, to have slipped
into that primitive skin. To have
turned my how how into a howl. To have
picked up my heavy hem and run.

Clothing may not make the man, or woman, but it certainly communicates a message.

The Aztecs flayed their enemies and wore the skins. Ancient peoples wore fur to keep warm,and later to communicate wealth and fashion consciousness. Some people today still wear fur. Have you ever seen fox fur stoles with the the heads, feet, and tails, still attached?

When I was a young girl, I remember discovering the bear coat in the basement of our family home. It hung on a hanger next to fraying jackets and discarded clothing on a clothesline nailed into a post. It was massive and heavy, and it smelled. The coat was my grandfather's. I can't imagine him wearing it to football games. His thin frame must have disappeared inside its mass. I don't own fur coats, other than synthetic, but whenever I discover one at a thrift shop, I stop and run my fingers through the fur.

If I were to turn my how how into a howl, the heavy hem I would pick up in order to run, would be the Alexander McQueen gown pictured here.

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