father dances with a woman
in his studio, shuffles his feet through
stacks of yellowed patterns and fabric.
I watch as he dips her, whispers in her ear.
They drag their shadows along the wall,
lean their bodies into each other. I spin
with them, lose myself in the blue flare
of my skirt, the sting of straight pins
against my legs. He lays her on the floor,
strokes her cheek, her hair. She is
unbuttoned into whiteness, her nippleless
breast pure as sugar. I am rooted
in this room of plastic bodies. Unfasten
the women from their limbs, and their heads
come crashing down. They know their limits—
know the value of a mannequin
is measured by the length of an arm
or an inseam, where the cuff of a pants leg
breaks across a foot. I want to breathe
for them, climb under their skins, push
out through the bald tops of their heads.
I watch him fold their clothes, pack up
their brushes and slips. Tonight, he slides off
their scarves and wigs, fractures them
into useless parts. They are disconsolate
and mute, wide bruised eyes, lips the color
of faded scars. This is where women come
to die, in this wasteland of parts.
We stack them into boxes, their pink heads
and torsos tumble into the blackness.
© by Amanda Auchter