Recorded for Poem-a-Day, May 19, 2017.
About this Poem 

“I do a lot of sewing (clothes). Construction is easy compared to fitting, which is basically math coupled with anticipating how a fabric will behave in 3-D. I’ve probably made a hundred dresses that are perfect on the hanger but don’t fit well enough to wear into the world.”
—Chase Twichell

The Phantoms for Which Clothes Are Designed

Sewing patterns are designed for imaginary
people, based on average measurements
taken in the 1930s by the WPA

and adjusted over the decades by the Industry.

I sew a Misses 14, designed for a woman
5’5” to 5’6”, 36/28/38,

which is to say no one,

so I alter the pattern to fit a phantom of me
instead of a phantom of her.

She doesn’t need any more dresses.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Chase Twichell. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 19, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Chase Twichell. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 19, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Chase Twichell

Chase Twichell

Born in 1950, Chase Twichell is the author of several books of poetry, including Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New and Selected Poems.

by this poet

poem
I want you with me, and yet you are the end
of my privacy. Do you see how these rooms
have become public? How we glance to see if—
who? Who did you imagine?
Surely we're not here alone, you and I.

I've been wandering
where the cold tracks of language
collapse into cinders, unburnable trash.
Beyond that, all I
poem
Who are you, austere little cloud
drawn to this page, this sky in the dream
I'm having of meeting you here?

There should be a word that means "tiny sky."
Probably there is, in Japanese.
A verbal Polaroid of a Polaroid.

But you're the sky, not a cloud.
I'm the cloud. I gather and dissipate,
but you are always
poem
Whenever I look
out at the snowy
mountains at this hour
and speak directly
into the ear of the sky,
it's you I'm thinking of.
You're like the spirits
the children invent
to inhabit the stuffed horse
and the doll.
I don't know who hears me.
I don't know who speaks
when the horse speaks.