Home > Relationships > Pursuit of a mirage

Pursuit of a mirage

You present me with
a dress you’ve spent
decades assembling.

“Wear it now,” you
tell me. “It’ll look
so very lovely on you!
Just like I’ve dreamed it
would, for all those
decades I’ve known
you were out there,
waiting to fill this dress.”

I choose my words
gingerly. “It is a
lovely dress,
I grant you that.
But how can you
have made it for me
hundreds of moons ago,
without knowing
I, specifically,
existed?”

“Oh, idle pish-posh!”
you utter, as you try
jamming the dress
over my head, and
over the very fine
garments I am
already wearing.
“I knew you were
out there, and
who wouldn’t want
to wear such a very
fine, expensive
dress?”

I push it away.
“I come with
my own clothing;
beside, that pretty wool cloth
is better for Montreal in December,
not the Mojave in July.
I need a dress for the
Mojave in July, and so,
being the resourceful sort
(who lives in the Mojave,
where the sun beats
vicious upon me,
this very July),
made my own well
to suit my landscapes
and needs of which
I am most keenly aware.”

“You’re not
hearing me right,”
you say, trying again
to force that long wool
dress, pretty to the eyes
but not to my skin, nor
my freedom to move
uninhibited in these
wild landscapes.
“I made this
lovely dress
just for you,
and I expect you
to wear it, and
shower me with
diamond thanks
for having thought
to make it and
share it with
you, lucky you.”

I step back and say,
“I have no need for
a long wool dress
as I run desert
sands in the
hottest months
of the year,
same as I would not
wear a swimsuit
in the deepest of
a December night
here. I have dressed
myself well for the
season, and for the
paths I know I must
take.”

“You will wear this dress,”
you demand. “I. made. it.
just. for. you. and,
you should know,
to not wear it is to
reject all the lovely things
I want for you.”

I step back again,
and say, “The things
you want for me are not
the things I want for me,
but you could not know
what I want, having tried
fitting me into the mold
against which you
began stitching your dress,
long before I was born,
instead of waiting for me
and making a dress
fitted to my form,
and my life, and my
history, and dreams,
and love of running
free, barefooted, across
the rugged hills (without having
to gather long, itchy garments
in my either hand) to run
these glimmering sands,
and telling me you’d
made it just for me.
You cannot have
made it just for me,
because if you had,
you would have asked me first.”

“What you’re telling me
is you will not wear this
dress I have so lovingly
created, from these finest
of wools from the most
fantastic corners of the
world, so spectacular
all would ooh and aah
if they saw you in it?”

“I don’t want to
be coveted for how
well I wear someone
else’s clothing,” I say,
smiling sadly that I should
have to explain why I don’t
fit what was pre-made, no
matter how lovely, or how
dreamily assembled.
“I will not wear that dress,
but will continue to
wear my own. If
someday you should
think to take my
measurements first,
and ask what fabrics
and patterns and styles
are suited for sailing
over desert sands near sunset,
we will have a hearty
conversation about
new dresses
someday.”

I shimmer
in front of your eyes;
when you blink, I am gone,
a real woman, swept
away by your pursuit
of a mirage.

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Categories: Relationships Tags: ,
  1. November 17, 2015 at 4:47 am

    Wow.
    You’re a woman of deep feelings, Deborah.
    This was brilliant.

  2. November 17, 2015 at 4:50 am

    Wow, this absolutely fits my feelings right now. I wish the world would understand that we can all manage to dress ourselves. Beautiful!

    • November 17, 2015 at 5:13 am

      I’m glad (and a little sad!) it fits your feelings right now. Things feel easier to handle for me when I can find the right words. I love yours, too: We can dress ourselves, and do it better than anyone else seeing a fraction of our total experience.

  3. November 17, 2015 at 4:57 am

    This poetry has had a very powerful effect on me. I recognize both sides of the situation, but more so the point of view of the dressmaker. I made someone(s) uncomfortable by trying to box them into the garment of my fantasy lifemate. Yet, I refused to let them do it to me! Needless to say the marriage didn’t last. Fantasies cam be crippling. Nice poem (:

    • November 17, 2015 at 5:14 am

      Thank you! I think I’ve played both roles in the past, at least in a contributory role on the one hand. The good news is that recognizing it from even one angle makes it easier to understand from any other, and thus easier to avoid. Hopefully!

  4. November 17, 2015 at 6:15 am

    This makes me think of my experience as a child and how it shaped my experience as a mother. Thank you!

    • November 19, 2015 at 4:19 am

      Thank you for reading, and your lovely comment! Writing this post reminded me how grateful I was that my mom saw a certain spark in me early and willed me to dress myself, before her illness changed her. Because of that early acceptance and that which I wrote about this morning, I know the openness of wearing those dresses … making the itchiness of someone else’s wool even more unbearable.

  5. November 17, 2015 at 6:26 am

    Mesmerizing! What a true story…

  6. November 17, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Saying “Amazing” doesn’t quite cover it but for now it will have to do. This speaks volumes. Love it.

  7. November 17, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Love the metaphors in this. Beautiful.

    • November 19, 2015 at 4:22 am

      Thanks, Carrie.

      On a side note, I’m glad for how your comment reminded me I hadn’t seen you in my feed for a few days. Checking out your interview momentarily!

      • November 19, 2015 at 7:48 am

        Thank you. I only post once a week to every other week, so I don’t end up in feeds too frequently. 🙂

  8. N.
    November 17, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Ok wow. This was amazing and beautiful and heartfelt all at once. You’re a very talented lady Deborah

  9. November 17, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Powerful, sad, empowering.
    If only all of us had the strength to realise that we dress ourselves best.
    Thank you.

    • November 19, 2015 at 4:24 am

      Hear, hear! My mom’s attorney had a magic wand. I think of it often and wish I could wave it in such a way that people across the world understood how much they are capable of, and how much good they can bring dressing themselves and wearing their clothes in the environs best suited to them.

  10. November 17, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    Beautiful….totally descriptive of what I felt and continue to feel….

  11. November 18, 2015 at 6:59 am

    I love everything you write. However, this was rang something so loudly in me. It was me disagreeing with my mother. While I probably have never quite fit the mold she had laid out for me I felt like it was this dress. The dress she’d always wanted me to wear, the dress I refused to wear because I didn’t like it. It’s funny, because I read this twice. I had too. She said to me just a few months ago that when I was only 2 years old she realized I had to pick my own clothes out otherwise all hell would break loose in the house. I’ve managed to pass this strong will onto my youngest, I never fought her. Funny, I guess I just understood what she wanted. I don’t see the harm in letting her dress herself. This piece was so metaphorically powerful and resonated so deeply with me. Even now, there are days I wonder how she and I are cut of the same cloth.
    I hope you don’t mind if I share this.

    • November 19, 2015 at 4:31 am

      Your exchange with your mom makes me wish I could ask my mom when she knew. I mean, she always knew my siblings and I would be different people with different needs and talents, but when was the point that she recognized those differences in each of us and began to respond to them? In my case, she granted a lot of “freedom,” because she knew–in her way–that freedom she didn’t permit was freedom I would make other ways.

      People expressed horror that she “let” me move out before I graduated high school at 16. She and I both thought this funny. She didn’t let me do anything. She told me she wished I’d stay, but let me go with open arms, knowing that I’d shy away from bars but nestle into truly open arms.

      I love how you describing approaching your youngest, as I loved your 20 things post a day or two ago. I’m excited for all the possibility in it.

      I’d be honored if you shared this, and I’m grateful for your kind and thoughtful words.

      • November 19, 2015 at 5:15 am

        Absolutely! Parenting has been the most difficult job I’ve ver had. It truly has. I never quite fit the molds either one of my grandmothers laid out for me, not even my mothers. My mom was a LITTLE BIT more flexible than my grandmothers were. Culturally, I think that if they believe if you don’t fit the mold you’ll never be happy. Probably because that’s what they were raised to believe and it’s funny because they’re so miserable. So for my girls, I learned from making mistakes, big ones. They don’t have to follow it. I can only hope and pray they’re listening. I don’t think of it as a mold rather more like tidbits of what I would say if I suddenly wasn’t around.
        I love to encourage a little of that feisty “freedom” in them especially with my oldest. I’d hate for her to conform to anyone’s mold for the sake of argument. So we’re constantly encouraging her to speak up. To set boundaries for others not to cross, etc. I never want her to be caught in a situation where she’s miserable, but is sticking it out because that’s what she thinks she’s supposed to do. I realized this when she was about 3 years old. I knew when she’d started saving her money from gifts and birthdays when she’d finally saved enough she asked me to take her to the store. She bought an expensive Barbie for her cousin. When I asked her why she hadn’t asked me she said, “because I wanted to get it for her.” I knew right there that her selflessness knew no boundaries. And I thought it was great. But, I’d cry at night, bc I knew that with a heart of gold like hers, she’d experience a lot of pain. I knew because she got it from me. However callused as my heart may seem now, those calluses didn’t appear over night.
        And now as a teen she’s tall and beautiful and she still has not created any boundaries. And bc of that she’s allowed her dad to hurt her, and she never spoke up about it until recently.
        Boy did she make me proud, more importantly she empowered herself.
        She felt good. She made herself proud. She pushed her own limits. She’s always succumbed to everyone else’s wishes and whims and can’t tell friend from foe.
        Each one of us is so different.
        My sister and I are night and day. You know, I’ve asked my mother if she was sure my sister was ours since I was 5 yrs old? I still ask her some days. LOL.
        She’s never been in a life threatening accident, so in my over analytical mind the jury is still out on that one.

        I read this again last night to a friend of mine. It’s simply a masterpiece.

  12. November 18, 2015 at 11:08 am

    Lovely, Deb. You make me think, as usual. But I still love you.

    • November 19, 2015 at 4:32 am

      LOL! And you, as usual, made me laugh not once but at least twice reading your comment! Thanks for that. ♥

  13. November 19, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Geez Louise I just went back and read some of my comments. I really need to stop commenting when I’m still in bed. My sincerest apologies, I sound like I’m drunk, but thanks for not mentioning it and reading between the lines. LMAO!

  1. November 19, 2015 at 5:29 am
  2. November 22, 2015 at 4:56 am

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