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

Trying to fall asleep,
I count down stone steps
into the dark, and there they are:
Centaurs, half in and half out
of the woods, hindquarters still trees.
Downstairs in dreams I look
directly into their man-eyes,
which are opaque, absorbent.
They don’t speak. I don’t speak

2
poem
When fed into the crude, imaginary
machine we call the memory,

the brain's hard pictures
slide into the suggestive
waters of the counterfeit.

They come out glamorous and simplified,

even the violent ones,
even the ones that are snapshots of fear.

Maybe those costumed,
clung-to fragments are the first wedge
2
poem
Above the blond prairies,
the sky is all color and water.
The future moves
from one part to another.

This is a note
in a tender sequence
that I call love,
trying to include you,
but it is not love.
It is music, or time.

To explain the pleasure I take
in loneliness, I speak of privacy,
but privacy is the house