I’m charmed by love Elaine Equi’s “Ghosts and Fashion,” a droll little poem in which she ponders the wardrobe problems of those who, having not quite left this world, must cope with the need to dress their non-bodies, rather than their physical forms. The ghost, she says,
must clothe its invisibility in something
if it is to “appear” in public.
Equi muses about traditional ghosts, “who favor the simple shroud—a toga of ectoplasm
worn Isadora-Duncan-style swirling around them,” and those spirits, more contemporary in outlook, who “opt for lightweight versions of once familiar tee shirts and jeans.”
And then the poem becomes still and gently sad in its last lines:
… if they were loved ones,
it is we who clothe them
like dolls from memory.
Yes. And suddenly you’re thinking of those you’ve loved and lost, and perhaps you clearly see some beloved article of clothing they often wore, feel its texture, catch its scent. Such is the power of clothing, of love, of ghosts, of poems.
“Call me superficial, but if anyone tells me they’ve seen a ghost (or an angel or an alien), my first question is, ‘What were they wearing?’ For the record, I’m quite sure I have seen a ghost—my grandfather after he passed away. He was wearing his usual work clothes, a short-sleeved shirt with baggy grey pants. I’m surprised he wasn’t smoking his customary cigar.”
—Elaine Equi, quoted on “Poem-A-Day, 6 August 2015
Categories: Fashion & Poetry